Submitted to: Computers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/26/2010
Publication Date: 5/20/2010
Citation: Mahan, J.R., Conaty, W., Neilsen, J., Gitz, D.C. 2010. Field performance in an agricultural setting of a wireless temperature monitoring system based on a low-cost infrared sensor. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 71(2):176-181. Interpretive Summary: Measurements of plant temperature are often used in research and management studies of agricultural crops. Infrared thermometers are frequently used for measurement of plant temperatures. The cost and complexity of traditional industrial-quality infrared thermometers limits their use in research and agricultural production. We have incorporated a low-cost consumer-quality infrared thermometer into a wireless thermometry system. In this study the low-cost wireless system was compared to a more costly industrial-quality system under field conditions. We conclude that the systems are functionally equivalent for many uses. The ease of use and lower cost of these systems will make temperature monitoring more accessible for researchers and producers.
Technical Abstract: Continuous measurement of plant canopy temperature is useful in both research and production agriculture settings. Industrial-quality infrared thermometers which are often used for measurement of canopy temperatures, while reliable, are not always cost effective. For this study a relatively low-cost consumer-quality infrared thermometer was incorporated into a wireless monitoring system intended for use in plant physiological studies and agricultural production settings. The field performance of this low-cost wireless system was compared to that of a typical research system based on an industrial-quality infrared thermometer. Performance was evaluated in terms of; reliability of data acquisition, quality of seasonal temperature measurements, seasonal stability of the consumer-quality infrared sensor and the equivalence of temperatures measured by the consumer-quality and industrial-quality temperature sensors. Results indicate that for many common uses of plant temperature data, the two sensors provide functionally equivalent results. The cost savings and ease of use associated with the low-cost wireless temperature monitoring system present advantages over the higher-cost industrial-quality sensors that may make them a viable alternative in many agricultural settings.