Precision farming has the potential to increase global food production capacity whilst minimizing traditional inputs. However, the adoption and impact of precision farming are contingent on the availability of sensors that can discern the state of crops, while not interfering with their growth. Electrical impedance spectroscopy offers an avenue for nondestructive monitoring of crops. To that end, it is reported on the deployment of impedimetric sensors utilizing microneedles (MNs) that can be used to pierce the waxy exterior of plants to obtain sensitive impedance spectra in open-air settings with an average relative noise value of 3.83%. The sensors are fabricated using a novel micromolding and release method that is compatible with UV photocurable and thermosetting polymers. Assessments of the quality of the MNs under scanning electron microscopy show that the replication process is high in fidelity to the original design of the master mold and that it can be used for upward of 20 replication cycles. The sensor's performance is validated against conventional planar sensors for obtaining the impedance values of Arabidopsis thaliana. As a change is detected in impedance due to lighting and hydration, this raises the possibility for their widespread use in precision farming.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-06-21
Acknowledgements: This work was funded and supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The authors would like to thank the Center for Desert Agriculture at KAUST for their assistance.