Microsystem Nodes for Soil Monitoring via an Energy Mapping Network: A Proof-of-Concept Preliminary Study

Micromachines (Basel). 2022 Sep 1;13(9):1440. doi: 10.3390/mi13091440.


The need for accurate information and the availability of novel tool and technological advances in agriculture have given rise to innovative autonomous systems. The aim is to monitor key parameters for optimal water and fertilizer management. A key issue in precision agriculture is the in situ monitoring of soil macronutrients. Here, a proof-of-concept study was conducted that tested two types of sensors capable of capturing both the electrochemical response of the soil and the electrical potential generated by the interaction between the soil and plants. These two sensors can be used to monitor large areas using a network approach, due to their small size and low power consumption. The voltammetric sensor (BIONOTE-L) proved to be able to characterize different soil samples. It was able, indeed, to provide a reproducible voltammetric fingerprint specific for each soil type, and to monitor the concentration of CaCl2 and NaCl in the soil. BIONOTE-L can be coupled to a device capable of capturing the energy produced by interactions between plants and soil. As a consequence, the functionality of the microsystem node when applied in a large-area monitoring network can be extended. Additional calibrations will be performed to fully characterize the instrument node, to implement the network, and to specialize it for a particular application in the field.

Keywords: microbial fuel cell; precision agriculture; soil monitoring; voltammetric sensors.