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Smart Irrigation Reduces Agricultural Water Use

LeafMonCermetek says its new sensor technology, LeafMon, allows growers for the first time to base irrigation decisions on a measure of plant hydration.

Traditionally, growers irrigated on a schedule. More recently soil moisture sensors have enabled growers to irrigate only when the ground is dry.

Now, LeafMon technology collects and analyzes new sensor data growers can use to base irrigation decisions on plant conditions. The company says this technology will substantially reduce water use and permit the grower to maintain their plants in near ideal conditions that maximize crop quality and yield.

LeafMon integrates a suite of environmental sensors and is installed on plants selected as representative of the grower’s crop. The LeafMon unit is non-invasive and mounts to the plant without causing damage or requiring destruction of any leaves. Safeguarding the plant allows LeafMon to continuously monitor an individual plant throughout the growing season.

LeafMon calculates the Crop Water Stress Index (CWSI) using a set of formulas that take into account the complex interactions of the environmental variables. Combining LeafMon with the Cermetek AquaMon Internet agricultural water management and control system gives the grower access to the plant health information on our web server from any tablet, laptop or smartphone. Patents are pending for the LeafMon technology.

The LeafMon technology was developed under a US Department of Agriculture grant. Cermetek expects to ship the first LeafMon products by late spring 2015. The initial products will target three of California’s highest value crops: almonds, grapes and walnuts.

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