Printed sensors for monitoring soil and plant conditions
High spatial density monitoring of the environment is essential for improving the understanding and management of natural systems. This is of particular importance in soils, where sensing can enable optimization of agricultural inputs, improved crop yields, increased carbon/nitrogen storage, and enhanced soil health. Print-based manufacturing of electronic systems enables the fabrication of large numbers of unconventional devices that utilize a wide range of materials that are compatible with natural environments, enabling the capture of useful, high-density information in these environments. This talk will describe recent progress in our lab on the study of printed electronic devices and systems for real-time monitoring of soil and plant conditions, with a focus on two specific sensor types. The first is a microbial activity sensor that utilizes biodegradable materials to monitor the decomposition activity of soil. The second is an ion-selective organic electrochemical transistor for evaluating nutrient concentrations that can be used in growth media and whole plant sap, as well as directly within plant tissue as an implant.