Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner today announced the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $1.6 million to the University of Colorado, Boulder. The project in funded through ARPA-E’s first-ever OPEN+ program, aimed at developing ultra-low-energy distributed sensors to improve efficiency in agriculture, boosting viability for bioenergy crops and reducing the energy and water requirements for agriculture more broadly.
“As farmers and ranchers in Colorado navigate the uncertainty of persistent drought, investing in technology is one of the best ways we can provide them more opportunities for success,” Bennet said. “Congratulations to the researchers at CU Boulder for securing this grant and leading the way to develop innovative tools to improve farming across the country.”
“The University of Colorado Boulder will be able to grow their innovative research in soil and crop health with this $1.6 million grant,” Gardner said. “It’s critical we continue to develop cutting-edge technologies that our farmers can utilize and I’ll always advocate for and support funding for these types of programs.”
The University of Colorado, Boulder will receive $1,690,415 for its Precision Agriculture using Networks of Degradable Analytical Sensors (PANDAS) project. The CU Boulder team will develop 3D-printed, biodegradable soil sensors that enable farmers to precisely understand crop water and fertilizer needs. These sensor nodes can be embedded in a field, to accurately and continuously monitor soil and crop health for an entire season before degrading completely and harmlessly into the soil. This approach could enable real-time soil monitoring by farmers, enabling them to reduce agriculture’s energy footprint and water needs and increase soil carbon.