CropX addresses critical soil health challenge - develops advanced fertilizer and salt monitoring capability
Feb. 23, 2021
CropX, a global leader in soil analytics for agriculture, recently announced a significant advancement in soil sensing technology: the ability to accurately and continuously monitor soil fertilizer and salt levels. Adding another level of data insight to its ag analytics platform, CropX scientists have created a solution to precisely detect fertilization events, salt concentrations and fertilizer movements throughout the soil.
"We started this ambitious project because we observed an emerging global need for better real-time information about fertilizer and salt levels in the soil profile, especially as growers seek ways to farm more sustainably," said Guy Sela, VP of agronomy, CropX. "Our team of agronomists and data scientists developed a solution that breaks down previous soil sensing barriers. Growers around the world will now have access to comprehensive data insights about fertilizer movements and precise salt levels in their fields to guide more efficient fertilizer application and management."
Both over and under application of fertilizers can decrease crop yields and crop profitability, while fertilizers that leach below the root system do not support crop health and may even cause nitrate pollution by reaching groundwater. However, to date, soil sensors have not been able to fully support fertilization management initiatives as they have been limited to measuring the bulk soil electrical conductivity (EC) rather than the electrical conductivity of the soil solution (known as pore EC). Relying on faulty conversions to assess pore EC and hampered by everchanging soil dynamics, soil sensors could not provide the real-time insights on fertilizer or salt levels needed to drive efficient fertilization management efforts.
CropX now has the capability to precisely monitor fertilizer movements and salt levels in the soil, at multiple depths, simultaneously. The new technology uses machine learning algorithms that learn the unique hyper-local electrical conductivity trends for each specific sensor location. With the CropX system, growers will be able to know the exact concentration of pore water salinity in the soil, detect if excess fertilizer has accumulated in the soil and distinguish fertilization concentrations at several soil depths. These new in-soil data insights will empower growers to:
- Make adjustments to their fertilizer management plans during the crop season based on data;
- Better target the amount of fertilizer used based on actual crop needs;
- Save on expenses from extensive soil sampling for laboratory salinity measurements;
- Monitor and document fertilizer movements in their soil over time; and
- Minimize fertilizer loss through leaching.
CropX plans an ambitious program to further advance this recent development, including further laboratory and field validations, limited commercial deployments and potential collaboration with partner organizations. CropX continues to build upon its farm management platform, broadening beyond its initial focus on irrigation and soil moisture to apply its advanced sensing and analytics technology. In addition to fertilizer management advances, CropX recently announced the successful integration of its effluent management solution to improve water quality initiatives and minimize nitrate leaching and run-off. Together, CropX solutions will provide growers with a complete picture of what is happening underground to boost crop yields while ensuring more sustainable agriculture practices.
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