Monday, 15 March 2021 16:07

UniSA makes precision soil moisture monitoring more affordable


Researchers at The University of South Australia have applied machine learning to provide a cost-effective way to to monitor soil moisture using a standard digital camera.

Efficient irrigation requires precision monitoring of soil moisture, but current methods have their drawbacks.

Salts in the soil can negatively affect buried sensors, which also require specialised connectivity hardware.

Thermal imaging cameras are expensive and the accuracy of their results can be reduced by weather conditions such as fog and clouds.

Researchers from The University of South Australia and Baghdad's Middle Technical University have developed a cost-effective alternative using a standard RGB digital camera and machine learning that may make precision soil monitoring simple and affordable in almost any circumstance.

"The system we trialled is simple, robust and affordable, making it promising technology to support precision agriculture," said Dr Ali Al-Naji.

"It is based on a standard video camera which analyses the differences in soil colour to determine moisture content. We tested it at different distances, times and illumination levels, and the system was very accurate."

Images collected by the camera are processed by an artificial neural network trained to recognise different soil moisture levels under different sky conditions.

UniSA AI irrigation system diagram

Such a monitoring system could be trained to recognise the specific soil conditions of any location, ensuing maximum accuracy.

"Once the network has been trained it should be possible to achieve controlled irrigation by maintaining the appearance of the soil at the desired state," said Professor Javaan Chahl.

"Now that we know the monitoring method is accurate, we are planning to design a cost-effective smart-irrigation system based on our algorithm using a microcontroller, USB camera and water pump that can work with different types of soils.

"This system holds promise as a tool for improved irrigation technologies in agriculture in terms of cost, availability and accuracy under changing climatic conditions."

The work represents a shift in focus for Professor Chahi and Dr Al-Naji, who are world leaders in the use of computer vision to monitor heart and respiratory rates. Professor Chahl has also worked on a computer vision system able to detect COVID-19 symptoms.

Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here


The much awaited iTWire Shop is now open to our readers.

Visit the iTWire Shop, a leading destination for stylish accessories, gear & gadgets, lifestyle products and everyday portable office essentials, drones, zoom lenses for smartphones, software and online training.

PLUS Big Brands include: Apple, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sennheiser and many more.

Products available for any country.

We hope you enjoy and find value in the much anticipated iTWire Shop.



iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.


Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous




Guest Opinion

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News