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AgriHouse Inc. Completes Exclusive License for Univ. of Colorado Water Management Technology

Date Posted: January 11, 2010

CU-developed leaf sensor saves water by telling growers when to irrigate.


SG-1000 Leaf Sensor
photo © 2009, AgriHouse, Inc.

Boulder, CO (January 11, 2010) -- Agri-biotech company AgriHouse, Inc.

AgriHouse, headquartered in Berthoud, Colo., is developing leaf sensors to measure and monitor plant moisture demands and other plant physiological sensing applications. The company’s first product, the SG-1000 Leaf Sensor and Precision Irrigation Control Software, became commercially available in the 4th quarter of 2009.

The SG-1000 Leaf Sensor is being used by researchers working in plant growth, as well as in commercial greenhouses; in addition to saving water and preventing loss of plants, the leaf sensor allows for direct measurement of plant hydration, replacing current monitoring technologies that direct watering indirectly from indicators such as soil moisture and air temperature.

In a 2008 test at a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research farm near Greeley, the company’s leaf sensor demonstrated an approximate 25% water savings over conventional watering schedules. (Colorado farmers currently spend more than $100 million annually for water and energy to irrigate their crops.)

Data monitoring captured by the leaf sensor and software also measures plant responses to evaporation, temperature and humidity fluctuations, along with wind gusts, soil moisture levels and natural rainfall. The sensors work in real time, and are functional during the entire growing season for any type of crop.

“Because of its low-profile and non-intrusive features, the sensor can benefit researchers needing to better understand water flow mechanics, nutrient uptake and yield performance,” says Richard Stoner, founder and president of AgriHouse. “The SG-1000 Leaf Sensor is another tool in the farmer’s toolbox for controlling and lowering the cost of on the farm inputs. It is simply smart sense for water management and water & energy conservation.”

The sensors work by combining magnetic resistance and radio frequency to enable on-demand watering, providing a localized alternative to current technologies of soil-based moisture monitoring and aerial infrared imaging. The technology was developed in the University of Colorado Department of Aerospace Engineering, and was the subject of a $150,000 Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2008. The first patent covering the technology was granted in the 4th quarter of 2009.

“AgriHouse has been extremely efficient in converting this technology from lab demonstration to pilot production,” said Ted Weverka, a licensing manager at the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office. “They get the technology in front of the customer, get feedback and launch product without delay.”

AgriHouse is currently beta-testing wireless versions of the sensor, which would enable use in home gardeners, greenhouses, farmers and other large-scale operations. Both the current version and the wireless leaf sensor interface seamlessly into precision irrigation control software developed by AgriHouse

AgriHouse is a leading edge agri-biotechnology company offering advance high performance food production systems for earth and space. AgriHouse was found in 1992 by Richard Stoner and Dr. Ken Knutson, Plant Pathologist, Colorado State University. The company has a broad portfolio of IP and patents to deliver cost effective green technologies to increase food production, conserve water and natural resources, reduce the reliance on toxic pesticides, and allow plants to regulate their own environmental needs through intelligent bio-feed systems.

In 2009 AgriHouse released its ODC™ Colloidal Chitosan for beetle kill protection. The USDA Forest Service tested ODC in 2008, on pine trees. ODC significantly increased (40%) pine resin pitch-out revealing a potential reduction (37%) in beetle eggs in pine trees. ODC was first sponsored by BioServe Space Technologies, NASA-sponsored Research Partnership Center, aboard the space shuttle. BioServe is located on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.

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