Introducing our new Multi Depth soil moisture sensor
Introducing our new Multi Depth sensor! Product developer, Daan Roethof, shares his thoughts on the biggest challenges with bringing the sensor from early idea to mass production.
We are happy to introduce our new Multi Depth sensor to the product range!
Our new Multi Depth sensor has the same farm-tough robustness as the Single Depth sensor. This enables it to be hammered into the ground. The sensor comes with 6 soil moisture sensors, one temperature sensor and an external antenna for excellent connectivity.
This makes it suitable especially for:
- Crops with large canopies
- Monitoring soil moisture in areas with complex soil horizons
- Measuring soil moisture at the active root zone all through the crop cycle
To read more about the sensor, visit our Multi Depth page - but keep reading if you want to know a bit about the journey.
A long journey with hundreds of prototypes
The Multi Depth soil moisture sensor has been many years underway. The idea is driven by a desire to monitor crops whose root lengths vary significantly during the crop cycle. This is the case for corn, for instance. From the corn is sown and until it is harvested, the roots can grow up more than a meter. It makes product developer Daan Roethof proud to have made this sensor go from the early idea stage to mass production.
"Our goal was to make one device with multiple sensors, but still keeping it so simple and robust that anyone can install it" says Daan.
Many challenges were faced during product development. One of the biggest was selecting the right materials and finding the right size and shape of components. Especially the sensor head and the pin that is hammered into the ground needed to be perfectly balanced. Ultimately, the design is sturdy enough both to protect the electronics inside, and for the whole sensor to handle farm tough installations.
A handful of Sensoterra Multi Depth prototypes and what the sensor has looked like at earlier stages. The Sensoterra blue sensor in the front is the final design.
More than 10 different design versions and over 100 prototypes have been built in the development process. Every single one of them have been tested in Sensoterra's lab and by customers in the field. Getting prototypes into the hands of the users has been crucial to drive the design in the right direction, Daan explains:
"Only by testing, getting feedback, improving and testing again could we reach a design that both provided consistent measurements and was robust enough to hammer into the ground. It was about finding out what didn't work in order for us to find the best solution."
But testing the prototypes in real-life scenarios also had its downsides, i.e. when gathering data. "In order to evaluate the data, and whether or not it was useful, we needed some datasets from full crop cycles." This has meant month-long periods in development where all that could be done was waiting. However, without validation from real users, the product would not have gotten to the stage it is at today.
Daan has been the head of development of the Multi Depth sensor. He has been coordinating with software developers, mechanical designers, manufacturers and suppliers to get the Multi Depth sensor from early idea stage and into the hands of our customers.
Daan Rothoef with prototypes of two different injection molded casings.
With thousands of Sensoterra sensors in the ground, generating over 60 million data points globally, Sensoterra was founded in 2014 and is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
For more information, please send us an email to [email protected]