New Plant Microchips May Revolutionize Winegrowing

A team of scientists at Cornell University invented a microchip that can be inserted directly into plants to tell farmers when to water, according to Modern Farmer. This new technology will particularly come in handy for wine growers, as grape vines need to stay at a certain level of hydration to optimize the sugar content in their fruits. 

The microchip is equipped with a “cavity filled with water and a membrane through which water evaporates.” The chip’s water level depletes along with the plant’s, and the sensor in the chip notifies the farmer when it is time to water the plant.

“A plant that has too much water tends to put more energy into the leaves,” says Vinay Pagay, one of the developers of the microchip. “We are trying to make it put more energy into the grapes.” According to his research, vines under a little bit of water stress produced better tasting fruits. 

Researchers estimate that these chips can be mass-produced for $5 each, and will revolutionize the irrigation techniques of farmers. [Modern Farmer] [Photo: Flickr/Peter Shanks]