SAN JOSE, Calif. , Oct. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — NIFA, in conjunction with the USDA and the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs, has awarded a Phase II funding grant to Cermetek Microelectronics, Inc., for the commercialization of a new technology that permits contactless proximal monitoring of plant water status 24/7.
NIFA’s SBIR/STTR programs fund research projects that propose innovative or disruptive solutions across nine topic areas ranging from food science and nutrition to conservation of natural resources. Cermetek’s technology was one of only 42 projects selected to receive Phase II funding.
Cermetek’s LeafMon system is based on patented technology originally developed by a research team at University of California, Davis under the guidance of Distinguished Professor Shrinivasa Upadhyaya.
Specifically, the LeafMon system provides an innovative irrigation Plant-based Water Stress Index (PWSI) metric that goes beyond traditional soil moisture measurements and ETC (evapotranspiration) guides. PWSI more accurately reflects the plant’s performance by accounting for stress and environmental plant acclimation processes that vary throughout the growing season. LeafMon does not employ plant invasive methods such as dendrometers or micro-tensiometers; or destructive measures such as Stem Water Potential (SWP).
UC Davis issued an exclusive license to Cermetek for the use of this technology. Under SBIR Phase I funding, Cermetek further modified the technology by making it more robust, cost effective, and increased its applicability by providing interfacing to commercially available data acquisition systems. Research combined with field testing in orchards and vineyards in California over the past several years has demonstrated significant water savings and improved Water Use Efficiency (WUE) of the Phase I LeafMon system.
Under Phase II funding, Cermetek will conduct additional research and development activities complementary to those already completed under Phase I funding with the goal to commercialize and bring to the precision agriculture market a proven, cost-effective product that reduces water demand and enhances water use efficiency for crops such as almonds, grapes, pistachios, and walnuts.
SOURCE Cermetek Microelectronics, Inc.