The research study covers the present scenario and growth prospects of the global soil moisture sensors market for 2016-2020. The report also lists agriculture, residential and commercial landscape, and sports turfs as the three major application segments where soil moisture sensors are used.
In terms of application, agriculture was the largest segment in the market in 2015. This trend will continue during the forecast period as the governments of developed countries such as the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia, try to create more awareness about soil harnessing technologies.
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Technavio hardware and semiconductor analysts highlight the following four factors that are contributing to the growth of the global soil moisture sensors market:
- Need for water conservation in irrigation system
- Need to enhance agricultural productivity
- Maintenance of sports turf
- Growth of environment-based regulatory bodies and NGOs
Need for water conservation in irrigation systems
According to Navin Rajendra, a lead analyst at Technavio for sensors research, “Water supply in agriculture is gradually emerging as a critical natural resource issue, due to an increase in demand for water from a growing population. Agriculture is major consumer of water in any agrarian economy. Therefore, irrigation water management is essential as it supplies the needs of the growing plant in such a manner as to avoid extended soil saturation and runoff.”
Sometimes crops fall below potential yields due to poor water and nutrient application. Due to growth in population and water scarcity concerns, awareness of water conservation is increasing. The introduction of a soil moisture sensor will increase the sustainability of agriculture and make it more profitable while at the same time conserve water.
Need to enhance agricultural productivity
Soil moisture sensors contribute to crop nutrient management. This is done by ensuring that crops have adequate water status and limited drainage, thereby ensuring minimal nutrient leaching loss. Furthermore, fertigation in combination with drip irrigation is used for high frequency nutrient addition. Soil moisture sensors help monitor soil water status and offer the potential for a fine degree of crop management so as to irrigate in accordance with crop demand and cropping conditions, which include species, crop management, planting dates, climatic conditions, and soil characteristics.
These sensors also, enhance product quality and help to control drainage for optimum salinity and environment management. Soil moisture sensors provide information on soil water status to the grower. Recent advances in technology have led to the development of a new generation of sensors that send information about the soil water status directly to a computer and mobile devices. These devices can thus be used to automate irrigation. All these factors will drive the use of soil moisture monitoring technologies during the forecast period.
Maintenance of sports turf
The importance of maintaining turfs meant for sports like golf, football, and rugby is the primary reason for the demand for soil moisture sensors. The most important factor in maintaining sports turfs is managing the water content. This factor affects the performance in terms of ball roll and bounce, and it also affects the growth of the grass, the breakdown of organic matter, the ability of nutrients to move to the roots, and buildup within the soil. Therefore, soil water has a critical role to play in turf health.
Apart from the ability to monitor soil moisture across a turf to provide information on the variability of moisture, it can also focus on drainage issues, potential turf stress onset, the evenness of irrigation, or hydrophobicity development. Therefore, accurate and reliable measurement of soil moisture is an important turf management tool.
Growth of environment-based regulatory bodies and NGOs
The local climate is one of the major factors driving the daily and seasonal evapotranspiration demand for crops. The rainfall pattern in the area, evapotranspiration rate of the crop and type of soil present in the region determine the time and amount of irrigation needed to prevent crop stress and produce high crop yield.
As weather conditions are unpredictable, especially during a change in climate, it is difficult to maintain consistent guidelines about crop irrigation. “Therefore, measuring soil moisture helps determine irrigation time and amount. Measuring soil moisture can help growers save water, reduce energy costs, protect the environment, and increase yield,” says Navin. Excess irrigation increases the cost of production and can have negative environmental effects such as waterlogging, runoff, and leaching of soil nutrients and other chemicals that eventually contaminate water sources and reduce yield. In addition, insufficient irrigation can result in crop stress and reduced yields. Though it is common for farmers to estimate soil moisture by the hand-feel method, soil moisture can be measured or monitored more accurately by using commercially available soil moisture monitoring systems, for continuous data collection.
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