This is the type of PlantBeat monitor that would be placed on a corn stalk to measure conditions as the plant matures The new technology was unveiled for the US market at InfoAg this summer and the company will test the product in corn and soybeans in 2015

This is the type of PlantBeat monitor that would be placed on a corn stalk to measure conditions as the plant matures. The new technology was unveiled for the U.S. market at InfoAg this summer, and the company will test the product in corn and soybeans in 2015.

Checking a plant’s pulse for optimizing yield

An on-plant sensor system could be coming to the corn and soybean markets soon that will help growers make better irrigation decisions.

Phytech unveiled a unique new service this summer for the U.S. market at the InfoAg precision ag conference in St. Louis, and the company is calling it PlantBeat. It’s a system that monitors plant growth rate and contractions, or its "pulse," and was originally developed in the company’s home country of Israel where drip irrigation is widely used. The company has expanded to the U.S. and its initial work has focused on the almond, cotton, citrus, tomato and grape industries, yet representatives at InfoAg said they’ll expand to testing on corn and soybeans in 2015.

The company’s first international office has opened earlier this year in California’s Central Valley. The PlantBeat service they’ve been testing in the state offers continuous monitoring – 24/7 - of plant growth rate, soil moisture and microclimate conditions in a farmer’s field or orchard. The data from sensors place on sample plants throughout a field is transmitted wirelessly via the cloud, and algorithms then analyze the plant’s health to determine whether or not it’s under stress. And alerts are sent to any mobile device designated by the grower.

The ultimate goal of the sensor/data system is to help growers make better and more precise irrigation decisions. The company said that for every 50 to 100 acres, they place the sensor system on about three different plants to get a variety of plant health data from a given field throughout the growing season.

In a release, Itay Mayer, VP business development for Phytech said, “If you are seeking to optimize yields during the season there is no better sensor than the plant itself to help you make the best decision.  By listening to a plant’s needs we are able to produce a predictive model for precise decision-making. Through PlantBeat, a plant’s needs are identified before the stress is visible – before a health decline is visible – in the field or orchard.”

And the company also says it’s eliminating the data interpretation aspect of the service by providing expert interpretation and insights through charts and graphs that can be viewed by the grower on a mobile device.

PlantBeat is a unique system that could be one more tool in a grower’s management toolbox to allow them to get more precise with irrigation management throughout the year. We’ll keep readers updated as testing in corn and soybeans happens in 2015.

Phytech says the current cost is $20 per acre. For more information, visit phytech.com.

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