Innovation at Work: Putting sensors in soil for a full growing season can improve farming

Fertilizer is one of the highest costs for farmers year after year. But testing the soil to monitor nitrate levels has been an expensive and slow process. It usually involves taking soil samples that are then sent to a lab to be analyzed. The results are not instant, and can change after extreme weather events. That leaves farmers to sometimes guess as to how much fertilizer to apply, and how often they should apply it. But researchers at Iowa State University may have a solution. They're developing soil sensors that can stay in the field throughout an entire growing season, providing farmers with constant information about the nutrients in the soil. It can lead to farmers applying fertilizer with more precision, saving money, improving yields, and protecting waterways from excess runoff.