Biodegradable Soil Sensors that can be “Planted” with a Seed Mixture


Scientists working at NDSU are developing biodegradable sensors capable of directly monitoring and reporting the soil environment in which they are placed. The sensors are constructed by using NDSU’s patent-pending “direct write” electronic printing techniques to print circuit and antenna patterns directly onto renewable bio-based materials. The circuit patterns are printed with trace amounts of metallic materials such as aluminum that are safe for the soil when the sensors naturally biodegrade over time. The Sensing Earth Environment Directly (SEED) sensors are self-contained and could be deployed directly into the soil during the seeding process by mixing the sensors in with the seed mix being planted. A reading device mounted beneath an agricultural vehicle would interact with the SEED sensors embedded in the soil and provide direct measurements of soil conditions moisture and chemical content in real time.


1) Measures chemical and moisture content of soil to ensure optimal growing conditions. 2) Biodegradable sensors decompose over time leaving no harmful substances behind. 3) Small similar in size to the seed being planted and easily deployed across a field. 4) Bio-based environmentally friendly; uses materials derived from agricultural products. 5) Information is read wirelessly in real-time using a device on an agricultural vehicle. 6) Dramatically improves precision farming practices and increases crop yields.

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