Policy / Systems / Technology

June 19, 2013


Ritsumeikan University Develops Self-Powered Plant Monitoring System

Keywords: Environmental Technology University / Research institute 

JFS/Ritsumeikan University Develops Self-Powered Plant Monitoring System
Copyright Ritsumeikan University

Ritsumeikan University announced on December 21, 2012, that it has successfully developed a self-powered wireless system that monitors plant health using electricity generated by the plants themselves. The system's battery stores a small amount of electricity generated through chemical reactions between the sap of a vascular plant and a galvanized iron nail inserted into the tree trunk. When the storage reaches a designated level, a signal is sent to the receiver from the wireless transmitter built in the self-powered sensor.

When the sap's amount is consistent, the sensor transmits signals regularly. On the other hand, when the soil is too dry or the plant is not healthy enough to maintain the sap flow, the electricity generation will decrease along with the lower sap level, which makes the interval between signals longer. The plant health can be monitored continually by paying attention to the intervals between these signals.

To set up the network system, it simply requires inserting an iron nail into a tree's trunk. Due to this simple design, the whole system has become much smaller and lighter compared with conventional systems that have sensors powered by regular batteries. The research team hopes to verify its effectiveness for other types of plants as well, and to apply the technology to actual farming practices with agricultural crops.