Soil Scout digs deep for water efficiency

Soil Scout

Soil Scout has developed technology that wirelessly transmits environmental data from deep below ground.

Soil Scout

The Internet of Things is heading underground, thanks to this three-pronged innovation.

And now some good news for the Finnish golfers who are currently twiddling their thumbs impatiently during the cold and dark off-season: soon you won’t have to wait until the snow has melted outside before teeing off.

Thanks to Soil Scout, the season can be brought forward a fraction sooner.

“We have developed technology that enables us to wirelessly transmit environmental data from deep below ground,” explains the company’s CEO Jonathan Skelly.

Thus, once Soil Scout’s sensor platform indicates that the earth underground has thawed, any remaining snow atop can be swiftly cleared away from the greens and fairways.

Two decades of data

 “Golf is using 9.5 billionSoil Scout CEO Jonathan Skelly litres of water a day globally.That’s the daily fresh water requirements of 4.5 billion people. Up to 50 per cent of that is being wasted because there’s no convenient and permanent monitoring solution,” says Soil Scout’s CEO Jonathan Skelly.

Soil Scout’s small, three-pronged “Scout” accurately reports levels of moisture, temperature and salinity in real-time, from as deep as four metres below the surface. Doing away with the need for inconvenient solutions that sit on top of the soil, once buried, the Scout operates for up to 20 years maintenance-free.

The roots of the sensor platform can be traced back to company CTO Johannes Tiusanen’s PhD studies as a soil scientist. A 19th generation farmer, Tiusanen fine-tuned the concept’s capabilities over 12 years of R&D after he first came up with the idea.

Once he was finally satisfied, Soil Scout was formed in May 2013 in order to commercialise the technology. Addressing the B2B market, the company’s obvious first port of call was the two trillion-euro agriculture industry. However, it quickly became clear that the technology had also piqued the interest of other big players.

“Golf is using 9.5 billion litres of water a day globally,” Skelly states. “That’s the daily fresh water requirements of 4.5 billion people. Up to 50 per cent of that is being wasted because there’s no convenient and permanent monitoring solution.”

With around 40 000 golf courses being managed worldwide, Soil Scout quickly broadened its focus.

Increasing need

Business has been developing quickly. Alongside its Finnish rollout, Soil Scout is in the process of entering the UK market, and commercial trials have recently been given the green light in the USA, South Africa, Australia and Brazil.

“What we have developed here is effectively a platform for belowground IoT,” Skelly explains. “No one has been able to transmit below the ground deeper than a few centimetres.”

The likes of soil, clay, concrete, snow and ice represent no obstacle for Soil Scout.

“From that point of view we are chatting to some customers, and happy to talk to others, about licensing into fields we haven’t even thought of,” Skelly states.

The growing interest in the technology is unsurprising: statistics indicate there will be plenty of need for Soil Scout’s device in future.

“Between now and 2050, the world is going to need a 300 per cent increase in the amount of water to service the needs of the next two billion in population,” Skelly outlines. “What motivates us is the excitement to make a tangible change.”

Text: James O’Sullivan
Good News From Finland

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