A sensor that will allow farmers to reduce their use of chemical fertilisers has been developed by researchers at Tyndall National Institute, based at University College Cork (UCC).

This will deliver significant cost savings and a reduction in the environmental impacts of fertilisers, which can cause high nitrogen and phosphorous levels in water bodies.

Tyndall’s Electronic Smart System (ESS) sensor is buried in the soil and monitors nutrient levels in real time.

The sensor connects to the Internet of Things (IoT) and uses cloud technology to collect and analyse the data, generating a report for the farmer.

Real-time insights

The report provides farmers with real-time insights into changing soil conditions, helping them to optimise fertiliser, reduce nutrient losses and environmental impacts.

The project is funed by the VistaMilk Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre and is in line with the EU's Green Deal objectives and the EU’s Farm-to-Fork strategy, which aims to reduce nutrient losses by 50% and address air, soil and water pollution.

By ensuring efficient fertiliser use, the development of this sensor contributes to a healthier, more sustainable food supply chain.

Alan O’Riordan of the Nanotechnology Group at Tyndall said: “This a very exciting emerging technology that does not exist elsewhere in the world. We are now looking at ways to translate this tech into the hands of farmers through licensing or commercialisation.”