Project Microprobe: Microfluidic actuators for real-time soil water analysis

Within the framework of the Fraunhofer Center for Biogenic Value Creation and Smart Farming BWSF, Fraunhofer EMFT is conducting research on miniaturized suction probes for soil water analysis. The goal is to enable demand-based fertilization by real-time monitoring of the nitrate content in soil water.

Metal micropumps for soil water analysis
© Fraunhofer EMFT / Bernd Müller
Metal micropumps for soil water analysis

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.

You might also be interested in:


Fraunhofer Center for Biogenic Value Creation and Smart Farming


Piezo Micro Pumps


Sensors and Actuators for Smart Farming