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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of Sustainable Production Systems and Water Management Technology for the Mid South

Location: Crop Production Systems Research Unit

Title: A low-cost microcontroller-based system to monitor crop temperature and water status

Authors
item FISHER, DANIEL
item KEBEDE, HIRUT

Submitted to: Computers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 27, 2010
Publication Date: September 22, 2010
Citation: Fisher, D.K., Kebede, H.A. 2010. A low-cost microcontroller-based system to monitor crop temperature and water status. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 74:168-173.

Interpretive Summary: Moisture deficit stress and high temperature are two of the major environmental factors that affect crop production. Measurements of several conditions within the cropping system, including soil-moisture status and canopy-, air-, and soil-temperature levels are often used to assess plant stress, and can assist in evaluating genotypes for drought-stress tolerance. A prototype microcontroller-based system was developed to automate the measurement and recording of this information. The system was constructed using inexpensive, readily available electronic components and sensors, and cost US$84 in parts. Several systems were deployed in corn and cotton fields to collect soil-moisture and soil-, air-, and canopy-temperature measurements to evaluate performance and suitability under local conditions. Measurements will be used in crop-improvement research for drought and heat-stress tolerance by identifying genotypes that maintain lower canppy temperatures under moisture deficit or heat stress conditions. Irrigation scheduling methods based on canopy temperature will also be evaluated to determine their suitability under local conditions of high humidity.

Technical Abstract: A prototype microcontroller-based system was developed to automate the measurement and recording of soil-moisture status and canopy-, air-, and soil-temperature levels in cropped fields. Measurements of these conditions within the cropping system are often used to assess plant stress, and can assist in evaluating genotypes for drought-stress tolerance. A battery-powered circuit was developed using inexpensive, readily available electronic components, including a microcontroller, real-time clock, non-volatile memory, and voltage regulators. Solid-state sensors, including a digital infrared thermometer, digital and analog temperature sensors, and a granular-matrix moisture sensor, were interfaced to the circuit. Systems required approximately four hours to fabricate and cost US$84 in parts. Several systems were deployed in corn and cotton fields in the humid Mid-south area during 2009 to evaluate performance and suitability under local conditions. The systems were simple to install, operated reliably, and returned valuable information. Measurements will be used in crop-improvement research for drought and heat-stress tolerance by identifying genotypes that maintain lower canppy temperatures under moisture deficit or heat stress conditions. Irrigation scheduling methods based on canopy temperature will also be evaluated to determine their suitability under local conditions of high humidity.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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