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Home » General Applications » Agriculture
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Agriculture

Finapp supports precision agriculture by providing unique knowledge of soil moisture for better irrigation strategy so as to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on efficient water use and hunger eradication.

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Descriptions

Doing the right thing at the right time. This is what it means to know soil moisture on a large scale, in depth and in time, something that simply did not exist before. And from this unique knowledge comes better choices that enable optimized irrigation, higher quality crops, in greater quantity, without wasting a single drop of water. Environmental sustainability and farm profitability for the first time go hand in hand.

We have developed specific services for precision agriculture:

  • Soil moisture, as measured by our probes
  • Detailed soil moisture maps
  • Irrigation advice

Our data is always easy to interpret and retrieve, just any PC or smartphone connected to the internet is enough to see soil moisture data, maps and irrigation advice at the click of a button, without having to install any software.

Pros and Features

A single Finapp probe provides the average value of Soil Moisture:

  • Large scale (1 to 10 hectares at sea level).
  • In depth, about 50cm, where roots draw water.
  • Real-time and continuous, to monitor seasonal trend.
  • On any terrain: the probe’s very low power consumption (about 0.5Wh) makes it energy self-sufficient with solar panel and battery backup.
  • Easily: the probe is lightweight and compact, requires no preparatory work, and installs in minutes.

In addition, the Finapp technology:

  • Is non-invasive and non-contact: the probe is typically installed 2m above the ground, does not interfere with agricultural activities.
  • It does not require calibration; after a few hours of operation, the probe calibrates itself.
  • It is resilient over time: as there are no moving parts, maintenance is almost zero.

Soil moisture maps

By setting the Finapp probe in motion on farmland, it is possible to obtain a detailed map of soil moisture and not just an average value representative of the interior field, as with the fixed installation. The maximum resolution can be pushed to “pixels” of twenty meters by twenty meters on a side. It is possible to install the probe on a tractor or any other agricultural vehicle that normally enters the field or on pivots or rangers for irrigation. The fundamental advantage of this application is to know in detail the soil moisture, so as to really take advantage of the new variable-rate irrigation systems, which make it possible to differentiate irrigation water volumes by controlling the forward or rotational speed of rangers and pivots. Knowledge of soil moisture is thus pushed to the maximum, optimizing automated irrigation even more.

Irrigation decision support (DSS)

Finapp has developed its own irrigation advice that provides the farm with data that is simple as important: when and how much to irrigate.

We evaluate field capacity and wilting point in a unique way, by analyzing soil moisture dynamics in order to determine the size of the “reservoir”, integrate data on crop type and phonological stage to understand irrigation needs on a day-to-day basis, evaluate the type of irrigation system and water availability in the case of shifts, and finally add weather forecasts for the following days so that we know evapotranspiration, wind, and expected rainfall. All of these aspects combine to create an artificial intelligence algorithm that can predict soil moisture values for the following days and, if they are too low, suggest date and amount of irrigation.

FAQ common questions

Why is an "average" measurement of an agricultural area sufficient?

If we hypothetically knew the soil moisture every 10 cm by installing thousands of point probes, we would not be able to give different irrigation to every single plant, because even in the case of drip irrigation, the amount of water coming out of each individual nozzle is always the same. Two different irrigation sectors are needed to provide different amounts of water. Within an irrigation sector, the amount of irrigated water will always be the same. In some cases, an irrigation sector may cover an area of one hectare, in small plots, while in large plots the sectors are much larger. For this reason, having a soil moisture value for each irrigated sector is the maximum detail needed.

Can the sensor control irrigation?

No, we only provide a measure of soil moisture. Knowing the soil texture, we can also integrate field capacity and wilting point values. Ideally, soil moisture should always be within these two values to avoid water stress, below the wilting point, or excessive water uptake that can lead to the birth of diseases (ex: cercospora beet), above the field capacity.

Moving the Finapp sensor to different fields/crops, is it possible?

Yes, it is possible since the installation is very simple and the probe can operate anywhere, but it is not recommended. The probe is designed to stay at least one season in the same place to provide useful information for irrigation management, but also to have a data history for subsequent seasons.

Do different soil types affect the measurement of soil moisture?

No, the Finapp probe uses neutron counting to measure soil moisture, and neutrons are only affected by the presence of hydrogen. Some amount of hydrogen may be present in the soil, either within organic substance or dissolved minerals. However, this amount is constant over time (taking human activities as a reference) and for this reason does not disturb the soil moisture signal.

Can the instrument placed in the fixed station be used to obtain soil maps with a rover technology?

No, the probe used for soil moisture maps differs from the fixed one because it has GPS integration and a greater ability to count neutrons and muons.

What is the purpose of soil moisture mapping of farmland?

2D maps of the soil moisture of the crop.
Characterize areas with similar hydrologic behavior.
Irrigation system health and efficiency.
Use VRT irrigation systems.
Mapping soil moisture in an area of about 10 hectares (done in 2.30h).

How has the quality of the mapping done with the CRNS sensor been demonstrated?

Finapp collaborates with DISTAL, Department of Agrifood Science and Technology at the University of Bologna, which is in charge of validating the data obtained from our CRNS probes. Gravimetric sampling and measurements with portable TDR probes were carried out to have a sufficiently large number of point measurements of soil moisture. All these data were then averaged according to an appropriate scheme to return a soil moisture map with a resolution like that provided by Finapp. Data analysis shows that the values are similar, and the variability of soil moisture is seen correctly by the Finapp probes placed in motion in the field.

What soil moisture value does the sensor report to the user?

Finapp provides the gravimetric soil moisture figure (kg/kg). If the soil density value (Bulk density) is available, volumetric moisture (l/l) can also be obtained.

Risk of theft: is insurance provided? Is it equipped with a padlock? Does it have an alarm for door opening?

The Finapp probe can be insured like any other property. No alarm or padlock is provided, but the front door of the probe container is locked. The solar panel is attached to the holder with unscrewable security screws.

Is it the soil texture evaluation service available?

Yes, we can provide this service which will be quoted from time to time according to the Client’s needs.

Does Finapp provide an agronomist for texture assessments, soil analysis, technical advice?

Yes, this is a service that will be quoted time to time according to the Client’s needs.

How deep is it able to measure?

The Finapp probe provides a soil moisture data representative of the first 30-50cm or so. The depth is dictated by the energy of the neutrons, i.e., the ability to penetrate the soil, and not by the type of instrumentation used.

What range/size of territory can it cover?

The range of the probe depends on the ability of the neutrons to move through the air before decaying. The standard measurement at sea level is 5 hectares, or a radius of about 125m. As you go up in altitude, the area increases because the thinner air allows neutrons to travel longer. At 2’000m, the radius reaches about 250m. Another factor that varies the range is the height at which the probe is installed. Typically, the probe is installed 2m above the ground, but by lowering it, the radius decreases, to a minimum of about 20m if placed on the ground, while it increases for higher installations.

Does it work if there are rivers or forests nearby?

The presence of biomass does not affect the probe’s ability to measure soil moisture. In contrast, the presence of rivers or lakes does. An irrigation canal will not contain enough water to affect the measurement; therefore, these assessments must be made on a case-by-case basis.

Does the probe work in mobile mode i.e. installed on a vehicle?

Yes, an ad hoc probe is used, which integrates GPS with a greater capacity to count neutrons. In this case it is possible to have soil moisture maps, with a maximum resolution of about 10m.

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Meeting customers’ needs

At Finapp we are committed to meeting the scientific measurement instrumentation needs of our customers, we enthusiastically help all those who work sustainably and fairly, we support those who advance science and technology for the benefit of humanity. Finapp believes in innovation as well as service.

Do not hesitate to get in touch with us for an appointment, visit, consultation, we will try to answer all your questions trying to suggest some possible innovative solutions.

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