RFID tags have raised privacy concerns globally. But now scientists have come up with a way to use them that could actually help save 30-40% of the water farmers use on crops.
The tuberous man-eating plant that devoured half the cast of Little Shop of Horrors said “feed me!” Now more benign plants can say “gimme a drink!” — via a wireless network. And soon they’ll use RFID tags to turn on the irrigation system themsleves.
A clip on sensor the size of a fly’s wing now uses a wireless network to tell farmers when crops need water. Or it can start an irrigation system automatically.
“We’re talking about saving 30-40% of water used,” says the technology’s inventor, Dr Hans Seelig, a research associate at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s BioServe Space Technologies Center.
Seelig and his team are working towards a wireless version that uses radio frequency identification, or RFID.
Alternatively, it can deliver the signal to a nearby base station, which would have enough power (using a battery or solar panel) to transmit the data directly to the farmer’s computer.
Software on the computer would then analyse the data and could alert the farmer by email or text message. Or the computer could be set up to go one step further and automatically turn on the irrigation system.