The Technology behind Alpha box – Nutrient Sensor and Spectrometer
Alpha box consists multiple sensors, some are available in the market while others have been developed by our team at IIT Kharagpur. This blog post will explain the technology behind the two major developments done by us: The nutrient analyzer and the spectrometer.
1. Nutrient analyzer:- It is based on ISFET technology that can detect various Ion concentrations based of electric field theory with each element having a characteristic curve. With this sensor, we can detect the concentration of ions like Nitrogen and phosphorous in the soil which is available to the plant for absorption. This can only detect elements in the ionic form and which is an advantage to us as the concentration of ions has a better correlation with the amount of element available for absorption by the plant than the total amount of that element in the soil.
2. Spectrometer: This is based out of the concept of spectrometer that has been used by cosmologists to find out the chemical fingerprint of the stars and galaxies and also in chemical labs to find out the chemical signature of a solution. We have developed further on the Near Infrared Spectroscopy and come up with a low-cost solution that operates (detects) in the required frequency range of 900nm to 2300nm by customizing modern IR sensors. This technology allows us to estimate the health and requirement of the plant without event touching the plant and can also be used for soil, but it is better optimized for the plants than the soil. This allows us to identify real-time demand of nutrients and supply accordingly, saving on costs due of overuse of fertilizers and also prevents from loss of yield due to under utilizing fertilizers.
This was a brief glimpse into the technology behind two of the most important components of our Alpha box.