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Award Abstract #0712605

STTR Phase I: Precision Plant Irrigation Control Utilizing Leaf Thickness Sensor Technology

NSF Org: IIP
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships
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Initial Amendment Date: May 24, 2007
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Latest Amendment Date: May 24, 2007
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Award Number: 0712605
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Gregory T. Baxter
IIP Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships
ENG Directorate for Engineering
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Start Date: July 1, 2007
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End Date: June 30, 2008 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $149,988.00
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Investigator(s): Richard Stoner info@agrihouse.com (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: AgriHouse Inc.
307 Welch Ave
berthoud, co 80513-1556 (970)532-3554
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NSF Program(s): STTR PHASE I,
SMALL BUSINESS PHASE I
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Program Reference Code(s): 9109, BIOT
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Program Element Code(s): 1505, 5371

ABSTRACT

This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I research project will develop an innovative method that enables reliable feedback for plant irrigation control by direct detection of impending water deficit stress (WDS) in plants. This technology indicates water deficit stress of living plants by measuring the thickness of leaves, which decreases dramatically at the onset of leaf dehydration. The proposed method overcomes the obstacle of traditional methods for determining the thickness of living plant leaves, measuring leaf thickness non-destructively, gently, reliably, conveniently, with high resolution, and in real-time. This novel real-time leaf sensor technology is non-destructive to the plants and can be used on a wide number of species. The proposed leaf sensor can easily be miniaturized and automated without hindering plant cycles. It combines concepts of engineering and plant physiology while employing recent technological advances in electronics and information technologies.

Early detection of impending water deficit stress in plants may be used as an input parameter for precision irrigation control, a strategy which has the potential to preserve enormous amounts of precious freshwater while ensuring successful plant cultivation and crop yield optimization. Such a device may find commercial applications in agricultural sectors or the greenhouse industry. The research would develop this novel method into a sensor that is applicable reliably, conveniently, and permanently under field conditions. This research implements this novel real-time leaf sensor-technology into an automated irrigation system as a proof-of-concept demonstration, and evaluates its performance in terms of reliable plant cultivation and its potential for water conservation under realistic farming conditions.

 

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