Novel Bio Sensor Derived from Cotton Biomass to Monitor Real-Time Soil Moisture and Nitrate

Project Overview

GS20-220
Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2020: $16,500.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Tuskegee University
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Byungjin Min
Tuskegee University

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Crop Production: irrigation, water management
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Growing concerns among small farmers and producers for specialty crops about the overuse of water, soil health, inorganic nitrogen supply, and accessibility of soil testing site, underscores the benefits from the use of sustainable and affordable monitoring systems with sensing technologies in crop production. Multiple parameters affect crop production could be optimized onsite using a biosensor in real-time by controlling irrigation water and nitrogen supply. Cellulose derived from biomass can be a good candidate as a bio-based sensor tool due to its inherent moisture absorption property. The adsorb moisture on the cellulose fibers can be converted into electrical signal by printing graphite electrodes on the cellulose surface. The electrical signal intensity could be recorded with microelectronic device. Nitrate concentration in moist soil can also be measured using an electrochemical technique with nitrate ion-selective electrode (ISE). Therefore, we propose to develop a cost-effective cellulose-based biosensor derived from cotton residues to monitor relative humidity and soil nutrients. The specific objectives are 1) to extract pure cellulose from left-over cotton linter and to fabricate a cellulose-based sensor; 2) characterize the sensing performance of the biosensors to monitor moisture and nitrates through soil model system in the greenhouse, and 3) disseminate the results through seminars and field demonstration for small farmers. The successful results of the proposed project would be integrated with low-cost microcontroller communication devices, allows sensing data to be applied for customized farming practices for healthy soil that could result in improving the profitability of crop production by under sourced small farmers.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The proposed project has three objectives:

    1. To extract pure cellulose from left-over cotton linter and to fabricate a cellulose-based sensor
    2. To characterize the sensing performance of the biosensors to monitor moisture and nitrates through soil model system in the greenhouse, and
    3. To disseminate the results through seminars and field demonstration for small farmers
    Objective Outcomes
    1. Leftover cotton linter considered as waste/residues but could be utilized as value -added products such as pure cellulose and source material for the biochemical sensor.  The biosensor preparation technique is straightforward, cost-effective, eco-friendly. More importantly, the sensor can be prepared at home using household materials with simple instruction and does not require expensive equipment.  This novel technique might be a potential tool for precision farming technology.
    2. Evaluation of sensor properties could give new insides on the application of cellulose as an alternative material to the exiting sensors, especially in gas and electrochemical sensing in a wide application, including food safety, biomedical, and air quality monitoring.
    3. The purpose of the pilot study is for a feasibility study to apply in the real farm system, and a demonstration of the developed sensor and methodology help to disseminate the findings to the target audience.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.