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Farmers can save water with wireless technologies, but there are challenges – like transmitting data through mud

Water is the most essential resource for life, for both humans and the crops we consume. Around the world, agriculture accounts for 70% of all freshwater use.

I study computers and information technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute and direct Purdue’s Environmental Networking Technology (ENT) Laboratory, where we tackle sustainability and environmental challenges with interdisciplinary research into the Agricultural Internet of Things, or Ag-IoT.

The Internet of Things is a network of objects equipped with sensors so they can receive and transmit data via the internet. Examples include wearable fitness devices, smart home thermostats and self-driving cars. In agriculture, it involves technologies such as wireless underground communications, subsurface sensing and antennas in soil. These systems help farmers track conditions on their land in real time, and apply water and other inputs such as fertilizer exactly when and where they are needed.

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