Installing one of gThrive’s soil sensors, it seems, is easier than planting seeds: just jam it in the dirt. The Santa Clara, Calif., startup calls its sensors gStakes, and they’re designed to be easy to place and relocate so that farmers can capture data from many parts of a field.
At the pointy business end of each gStake is a handful of sensors to measure the moisture, electrical conductivity and temperature of the soil. The top of the stake holds additional sensors for sunlight and air temperature. The idea is to capture a picture of what life is like for the crops, both under and above the ground — but to check on deeper root systems, the stake can be completely buried with an extension cable keeping just the antenna above the surface.
gStakes communicate via a proprietary radio link in the ISM bands. Data can pass from one sensor to the next until it reaches a gLink base station, which provides an Internet connection via a cellular subscription or Wi-Fi 802.11n. gThrive’s cloud servers make the data available to the farmer through the company’s website and mobile app.
Each stake includes sealed-in batteries that can keep it functioning for more than three years in the field. The base station is powered by an outlet or a solar panel.
gThrive released its first products on Earth Day 2015, and they’ve since been deployed on farms in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Arizona. You can browse kits and accessories online, but you’ll have to contact the company for pricing quotes.
Author: Ted Burnham