Wireless. For most, the word conjures images of quaint coffee shops or busy airport lobbies – places where people drop in to check on business or check in with other people.
But increasingly "wireless" is showing up on the farm to help produce better crops, net more money for growers and land a superior product in stores for consumers, according to experts.
Wireless agriculture is yielding benefits in rice and cotton studies by Texas AgriLife Research scientists, for example.
"We're working on a system that uses wireless sensing in rice production," said Dr. Lee Tarpley, AgriLife Research plant physiologist in Beaumont. "We’d like to be able to continuously monitor field conditions such as temperature and soil moisture, and using sensors allows us to do that. We can put them in the field and collect the data from them inside on our computer.
"We can’t do that using the more typical wired sensing network because the cost of running the cables out to the field would be too expensive," he added.
Because wireless sensing networks are becoming commercially available, Tarpley said, his studies that monitor conditions such as soil moisture will eventually help farmers know how to use such a network to make crop management decisions.