For taking the water samples, the probe system has to overcome the suction force of the soil and forward the liquid to the integrated inline sensor system. The matric potential is strongly dependent on the quality and humidity of the soil in question.
For this demanding task, the Fraunhofer EMFT researchers use a highly miniaturized metal micropump. With such a miniaturized platform for taking the samples, the Fraunhofer EMFT research team wants to enable other scientists to use their sensor technologies in buried suction probes. This will enable monitoring the material transport in various soil types in high time resolution.
Such piezoelectric-driven micropumps have thus far not been used in agricultural applications, they have their roots mainly in medical technology. There the pumps - the size of a fingernail or a coin - provide implantable dosing systems with high-precision drug delivery, for example.