Doctor makes sensor to measure pollution in agricultural land

The sensor only needs to be plugged into the soil, measuring the conductivity can determine the ion content in the soil, thereby determining whether the soil is “poisoned” or not to have a plan for improvement.

Electrochemical sensor system measuring conductivity to determine pollution of agricultural land due to fertilizer residue has been successfully manufactured by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Hong Phong, Institute of Chemistry, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.

Dr. Phong said that the measuring system consists of 12 electrodes at different depths, each sensor has four electrodes. The electrodes are designed with sensors placed at three different depths (above the ground, the rhizosphere, and the subroot). The purpose is to determine the movement of fertilizer from the time it is put into the ground until it is washed away.

Sensors can determine how long the fertilizer will reach the roots, when the plant will absorb the amount of fertilizer, how much will be absorbed, and how much will be left over.

To determine the parameters, simply plug the sensors into the ground around the plants. The depth of the sensor depends on the purpose of the measurement. Each sensor can only measure at the location, for a large area, many sensors will be needed.
According to Dr. Phong, farmers currently use fertilizers for crops according to experience but not according to the standard formula. Therefore, the overuse of fertilizers takes place in many places. They do not know that in fact, the plant only absorbs about 10-15% of the fertilizer, the remaining 70-79% is washed away. Excess fertilizer will pollute surface water and groundwater. Excess nitrogen in the soil will be converted into nitrate (NO3-) or nitrite (NO2-), which are directly toxic to aquatic animals and harmful to human health through the use of water or other substances. crop products.

The team’s device not only makes it possible to determine soil conductivity at different depths and at different fertilization sites. “This is a new measurement technique. There is no conductivity meter on the market that is capable of simultaneously measuring the conductivity of the soil,” said Dr. Phong and said, from assessing the excess level of soil. fertilizers in the soil, can predict the effective use of fertilizers for different types of soil and crops.
The device has been tested in rice growing areas in Dong Anh (Hanoi), Hai Duong and orchards on the campus of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. The results show that the sensor accurately reads the required parameters before and after fertilizing the rice plants. From this experiment, the team found that the metabolism of fertilizers in different soils was different. This means that the ability of plants to absorb fertilizers also varies by soil type, crop type, weather season…
Mr. Phong said, from this study, it is possible to calculate the optimal formulas in fertilizer use for each region and each crop. Not only applied in the agricultural field, these sensors can also be used to measure the water system, control the saltwater intrusion indicators of the Mekong Delta, evaluate the reverted areas in mining, etc. In the coming time, the team will continue to perfect the product as it can be measured in many different types of soil (including hard soil, mountainous land…) and develop more channels to measure on a larger area.

Dr. Le Tat Khuong, former director of the Institute of Regional Research and Development, Ministry of Science and Technology, said that currently, to determine the elements present in the soil, samples must be taken and brought into the laboratory. dedicated for analysis.

In agricultural areas after a certain time (maybe one or two, three years) the quality of the soil must be assessed. The purpose is to determine the potential poisoning of the soil due to the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, see how much heavy metal residues are, and what warnings should be given.

According to Dr. Khuong, the creation of a pollution measurement sensor in agricultural land meets current needs. This is a new method in Vietnam. When putting the sensor to the ground, you can know the indicators immediately without having to take the sample to the laboratory. This is a very useful improvement, saving a lot compared to the old method, which does not require manpower, laboratories, chemicals… for analysis. “Hopefully the group will have specific assessments for widespread deployment,” Mr. Khuong said.

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