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Sensors detecting how plants respond to drought

Monday, 26 September 2022

Plantenna team at work in tomato greenhouse Bleiswijk

Last summer, researchers from 4TU Plantenna tested several sensors that can measure drought stress in plants in detail. The sensors’ aim is to detect at an early stage when plants are experiencing critical stress, but also to what extent they can recover after a drought period. The ultimate goal is to use the new sensors for a "stress-alert" system, which will help farmers and growers better manage their crops during stress conditions, such as a heat wave or future water scarcity.

Several types of sensor innovations were used in the greenhouse at Delphy, including ultrasound microphones, "Distributed Temperature Sensing curtains," micro-radars and a stomatoscope. Additional measurements such as soil moisture sensors, sap flow meters and leaf thermometers serve as a reference to determine at what times the plants no longer absorb sufficient water. The drought experiments, as well as the heat wave that hit the country in August, provided a lot of interesting data for the research.

4TU.Plantenna is one of the programs of the 4TU collaborative program High Tech for a Sustainable Future, through which the 4TU.Federation aims to boost research and education on technologies that contribute to a sustainable future.