By 2050, the U.S. population is estimated to grow to 400 million and the world population to 9.7 billion. Energy use is one of the largest costs on a farm. Current agricultural practices account for 70% of global water use. And inefficient use of agrochemicals is altering Earth’s ecosystems. With finite arable land, water, and energy resources, ensuring food, energy, and water security will require new technologies to improve the efficiency of food production, create sustainable approaches to supply energy, and prevent water scarcity.
The National Science Foundation granted the University of Pennsylvania, Purdue University, the University of California at Merced, and the University of Florida an award to establish the Engineering Research Center for the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture (IoT4Ag) in September, 2020. IoT4Ag’s mission is to create and translate to practice Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for precision agriculture and to train and educate a diverse workforce that will address the societal grand challenge of food, energy, and water security for decades to come.
In this presentation, IoT4Ag’s research director Cherie Kagan, explains how the nano-enabled, multi-mode sensors they are designing can help. Integrated systems engineered from these technologies can capture the microclimate and spatially, temporally, and compositionally map heterogeneous stresses for early detection and intervention to ensure better outcomes in agricultural crop production.
The sensors Kagan and her team are co-designing and co-creating must hit many targets. They must use zero or near-zero energy. They also must be low-cost, deployable at large scale, biocompatible/biodegradable, and operate below the soil surface and in or below the canopy.
Stephen J. Angello Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering
Cherie Kagan is the Stephen J. Angello Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. She is Penn Engineering’s Associate Dean for Research and Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture (IoT4Ag). The Kagan group’s research is focused on studying the chemical and physical properties of nanostructured materials and in integrating materials with optical, electrical, magnetic, mechanical, and thermal properties in (multi-)functional devices. The group combines the flexibility of chemistry and bottom-up assembly with top-down fabrication techniques to create materials and devices with applications in electronics, photonics, and sensing. Kagan was the 2021 President of the Materials Research Society and an Associate Editor of ACS Nano for eight years.