Determine if a plant will dry out, long before it shows signs of it? That may not seem possible, but actually now it is, thanks to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Sensor on a plant leaf
Interesting research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in America has led to the development of a sensor that can be “printed” on a plant leaf. This sensor collects data that can be analysed. When there is a water shortage, the sensors give a signal so that action can be taken in time.
The sensor contains an electronic circuit of nanotechnology, which is about five times thinner than a human hair. This sensor is placed on stomata, through which water can evaporate. These stomata respond to light, the concentration of CO2 and drought. When there is little water, the stomata move more slowly. These are the first signs of drought in a plant.
Measure water requirements
The special ink that is used is printed over a stoma. Every time the stomata closes, the current in the circuit can be measured. When these reopen, the flow stops. This makes it possible to measure the water requirements of a plant very precisely. In addition, it offers the possibility of continuous monitoring, making this a rather clever piece of technology.Although it may seem clear when most plants need water, there are some plants that hardly show signs of drought and when they do it is often already too late.
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Image above: Liewluck
View Middle: MIT