Eco-Living Magazine

Industry Spotlight: Aqua Spy

Posted on the 31 August 2012 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Industry Spotlight: Aqua SpyAs everyone knows agriculture is big business in America and, as the drought gripping the Midwest shows, a risky business as well. One of the great unknowns in farming is the condition of the soil. Knowing information such as the moisture level of the soil helps farmers make decisions about water and fertilizer use and crop yield. In a drought, this type of information can help farmers more efficiently use and conserve their water supply. To help farmers determine when and how much to water their crops and when to fertilize is the goal of a privately-held company called Aqua Spy.

Aqua Spy manufactures soil moisture probes. The probes are buried 60 inches into the ground with soil moisture sensors every four inches along the vertical column. The probes send out electrical signals every three minutes into the soil and measure the responses. The process for measuring soil moisture is very detailed.  The information received from the probe helps determine the moisture content and salinity of the soil at different depths. The probe data is sent to Aqua Spy servers via a wireless network, which run a series of algorithms on the data and then send the results and recommendations to a website that can be accessed for real-time updates on soil condition. Updates can also be sent to handheld devices as well. Examples of recommendation messages include “draining occurring, do not apply chemicals” or “32 hours until next irrigation.”

This all sounds pretty good but how does a farmer use this information and how does it save money? The answer is that Aqua Spy data can be used to save on energy, chemical and water costs as well as help increase crop yield.  Knowing the soil moisture content allows a farmer to save on the energy costs associated with pumping water to spray crops by avoiding unnecessary treatments as well as allowing more efficient on-demand water usage. Also, successful fertilizer and pesticide application relies on soil density. If the soil is too porous, the fertilizer flushes through to the water table rather than being absorbed by the crops, which, besides been a waste of money, creates environmental problems as well.

One of the initial drawbacks of soil moisture monitoring systems is the cost incurred in setting up a system. Aqua Spy’s website has a number of testimonials from users showing the costs associated with Aqua Spy and the increase in crop yield and cost savings as a result of using the system.  The website also contains a handy ROI calculator to allow farmers to calculate their savings using Aqua Spy technology given numerous variables.   As one might guess, Aqua Spy does not have the market for soil sensors all to itself. Top competitors include Toro and Irrometer.

With the increase in the world’s population and the corresponding need to increase crop yields to feed the world, technology like that produced by Aqua Spy can only become more popular. In addition, with the advances in science and technology, soil monitoring and analysis will continue to be refined and the cost associated with real-time monitoring of the ground beneath their crops will invariably decrease making it more accessible to farmers around the world.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative and should not be construed as personalized investment personalized advice. You are responsible for your own investment decisions.

Source: Aqua Spy

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