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High Precision Zero-friction Magnetic Dendrometer
  • +3
  • Cameron Clonch,
  • Bryson Goto,
  • Mark Huynh,
  • Alexander Levin,
  • Chet Udell,
  • John Selker
Cameron Clonch
Oregon State University

Corresponding Author:clonchc@oregonstate.edu

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Bryson Goto
Oregon State University
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Mark Huynh
Oregon State University
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Alexander Levin
Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University
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Chet Udell
Openly Published Environmental Sensing (OPEnS) Lab
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John Selker
Openly Published Environmental Sensing (OPEnS) Lab
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Abstract

Increasing agricultural demand for freshwater in the face of a changing climate requires improved irrigation management to maximize resource efficiency. Soil water deficits can significantly reduce plant growth and development, directly impacting crop quantity and quality. Dendrometers are a plant-based tool that have shown potential to improve irrigation management in high-value woody perennial crops (e.g. trees and vines). A dendrometer continuously measures small fluctuations in stem diameter; this has been directly correlated to water stress. While plant-based measures of water deficits are the best indication of water stress, current dendrometers are imprecise due to mechanical hysteresis and thermal expansion. The high-precision dendrometer created at the OPEnS Lab alleviates these key failure points using zero-thermal expansion carbon fiber, zero friction via a spring tensioning approach, and a linear magnetic encoder. The device achieves 0.5-micron resolution, and thermal fluctuations are less than 1 micron over diurnal swings of 25°C. The cost of the device varies with build quantity; parts are $200 - $450 each and assembly requires 6 to 12 hours per system. Dendrometers are currently being deployed with telemetry based on LoRa, which is under evaluation. Without solar charging and telemetry, the battery is sufficient for over two years of operation. Mass deployment of these automated dendrometers has the potential to provide a continuous record of water stress driven changes in stems, providing valuable decision support for irrigation management.