International Frequency Sensor Association (IFSA) Newsletter
This monthly e-newsletter, written by the editors of Sensors & Transducers Magazine (ISSN 1726-5479), delivers the product and research news you asked for, and updates you on happenings in the sensor science and industry. Who should read this Newsletter ? All who are interested in the newest information and trends in sensors, transducers, MEMS and sensor instrumentation, including DAQ.
IFSA Newsletter (ISSN 1726-6017), No.3, March 2010
In this Issue:
1. Sensors & Transducers Magazine (e-Digest) and Journal, Vol.114, Issue 3, March 2009
2. Sensors Web Portal Up-dates Briefs
3. Sensors for Agriculture and Environment Monitoring (Technical Insights)
5. Additional Information, Comments, Suggestions
Sensors for Agriculture and Environment Monitoring (Technical Insights)
Wireless Sensor Networks Holds Huge Potential for Agricultural and Environmental Monitoring Applications
The need for monitoring agricultural and environmental parameters to protect all forms of life from exposure to hazardous chemicals has driven the adoption of advanced and intelligent sensor systems. The exploding population has made it necessary to ramp up agricultural yield, and tracking of soil and crop/plant characteristics has become vital. Fertilizer management is important to prevent fertilizer run-offs. With issues related to energy consumption, population and need to promote a cleaner and safer environment, sophisticated sensing technologies are explored and deployed for both agricultural and environmental monitoring applications.
Legislations and regulations that emphasize environmental safety and government initiatives to facilitate R&D programs are promoting sensor uptake,' notes the analyst of this research service. 'Advances in related industrial sectors such as information and communication, manufacturing, and materials are enhancing market prospects.'
It is desirable to have multi-sensory systems, which would monitor multiple parameters of interest such as soil characteristics and environmental factors. Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are gaining an increased momentum in the agricultural and environmental space.
Although detection techniques are based on optical, acoustic, electromagnetic, electrochemical, chemical methods, and many more, there is no single standard detection platform. This could be a potential hindrance to the deployment of a specific type of a sensing system for the desired application. Some preferred performance metrics of detection/sensing systems are high sensitivity, specificity, selectivity, wide detection range, and low false alarms.
Lack of standardization; improving sensing system parameters such as sensitivity, specificity, and detection range; developing multi-sensory system, effective sensor fusion algorithms, and simulation tools are some of the challenges with regard to sensors used for monitoring agriculture and environment. Apart from these factors, the global financial meltdown has slowed market momentum, and difficulties could be encountered in commercialization, new product introductions, global expansion, employment strength, and so on.
Going forward, the focus is on green technologies such as energy harvesting, which has proved to be a viable alternative to batteries in WSN applications. Solar-powered WSNs are used for agricultural and environmental monitoring applications. However, other sources of ambient energy, including wind, vibrations, and temperature could be used to power WSNs, and such technologies have to be actively explored. Though some of the applications leverage the benefits of WSNs and energy harvesting, widespread deployment in the target market is anticipated only during the medium and long terms.
'To promote market penetration for sensors, participants in this space must explore partnerships and collaborations,' says the analyst. 'Funds from stimulus packages must also be leveraged to develop innovative solutions.'
Nanotechnology-based sensing solutions are anticipated in the longer run. MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical-systems) based sensors are identified for detecting chemical and biological contaminants in the environment. Though the technology supports miniaturization and device integration, there has been skepticism about adoption.
This Frost & Sullivan research service titled Sensors for Agriculture and Environment Monitoring reviews the factors that could influence the deployment of various sensing solutions in target markets. It also provides market data for wireless sensors, along with macroeconomic trends (current economic downturn). Some emerging technologies in the target markets are also discussed.
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