Soil Balancing and Nutrient Sensing

When we created Wide Sense, the environmental sensor network, we envisioned a set of weather sensors as a first and easy-to-achieve sensor load.  We also embarked on a requirement analysis to try to determine a sensor set or combination that that has high value for a specific stakeholder group.  The result of this requirement analysis was that a NPK (nitrate/phosphate/potassium) sensor would be a soughtsensor-after sensor in the Wide Sense stable.  So, we decided to conceptualize and build a sensor in 2013/4, and we did limited field trials in 2015 to prove the concept.  The sensor has just been patented provisionally. Two patents were filed, the first to cover the analytical part of the sensor, and the second patent relates to an in-situ sample extractor.

We also recognised that the technology is more generic than measuring nitrates and phosphates, it can also be used in conjunction with bio-luminescent organisms to detect the presence of toxic heavy metal or other substances.  We are further investigating this capability this year.

We envisage that this sensor will be used as part of services rendered by our innovation hubs in the near future, and we already have proposals that may make use of the in-situ capability of the sensor.

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