Farmers Can Now Use Solar Energy to Power ‘Precision Agriculture’ Sensors

Israel start-up Sol Chip is creating a suite of Internet of Things  (IoT) products that are wirelessly powered by its proprietary energy harvesting solar battery systems. The company has developed what it calls the “Everlasting Solar Battery,” which is able to harvest and store solar energy to support the billions of low-power applications, devices and sensors that make up the emerging IoT ecosystems.

This week, the company announced its latest product: a wireless solar tag that can be used in a variety of smart infrastructure applications, including what Sol Chip calls “precision agriculture” and smart irrigation.

“Sol Chip is uniquely positioned to realize our vision of enabling billions of autonomous IoT devices for many different market sectors in a way that is cost effective and environmentally sustainable,” Dr. Shani Keysar, founder and CEO of Sol Chip, said. “Our new SCC device clearly demonstrates these qualities for precision agriculture and smart irrigation and we are working on more applications for additional market sectors.”

The new Sol Chip Comm (SCC) is a tiny wireless device that connects to the cloud and can be used to track and manage data from other IoT sensors deployed across an area like a crop field. The SCC collects real-time data from up to hundreds of deployed sensors that are monitoring things such as soil moisture, soil temperature, nutrient levels and air temperature.

“This essential data gathered by SCC is analyzed by a precision agriculture application in order to make data-driven adjustments for optimizing water and fertilization consumption,” the company said, which will help to improve crop yields while reducing water consumption and decreasing costs.

A Sol Chip sensor deployed in a vineyard. Image source: Sol Chip
A Sol Chip sensor deployed in a vineyard. Image source: Sol Chip

“The world’s population is growing steadily and technologies to improve food production with higher yields and lower inputs is needed,” Dr. Keysar told Technigraph Magazine. “Streamlining food production with new technologies will also improve profitability, reduce operational costs and lower the environmental impact of agriculture. Sol Chip is positioned to meet these challenges and offers a win-win solution for everyone involved.”

Sol Chip makes some bold claims about its SCC tag. The company says the solar-powered SCC, which is about 1cm by 1cm in size, can operate continuously for up to 10 years without maintenance. The device is solar-powered, so there’s no need to change batteries. A spokesperson said the batteries will continue to power the SCC device in all weather conditions, and can store excess energy from one season to another. And the device is wireless, which means there’s no costly installation requirements.

The SCC is powered by Amtel’s low-power microcontroller units (MCU). The SCC has a network of wireless mesh nodes built in for Wi-Fi coverage up to 1,500 meters, and it has 433Mdz radio frequency for outdoor applications.

Earlier this year, Sole Chip partnered with Solariz, a Singapore-based IoT technology solutions provider, for trials in vertical agriculture and smart city systems.

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