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Finnish Startup Goes Underground to Measure Soil Conditions

Dan Jones
10/9/2019

Finnish agricultural Internet of Things (IoT) startup Soil Scout is working with Deutsche Telekom and has closed a round of funding as it works on its long-term ambition to deliver accurate data about weather underground from all around the world within five years, according to the CEO.

The company has developed the HYDRA Scout, a sensor that can be buried up to 4 meters underground, and can deliver information on temperature, moisture content and salinity in the soil. This sensor can transmit data wirelessly to the Soil Scout basestation for up to 20 years.

The Scout sends wireless transmissions to a recieving antenna that can be passed to a GSM/WCDMA modem to the Soil Scout cloud. The basestation can recieve data from the sensor at up to 900 meters away. Each receiver can manage more than 1000 Scouts and can stack up to up to 4 receivers to handle multiple antennas. The basestation requires cellular coverage and a data-enabled SIM card to work.

Soil Scout CEO Jalmari Talola tells Light Reading that Soil Scout developed its own wireless protocol to work well underground. "None of the commercially available radio protocols were suitable enough to overcome the demanding restrictions that the soil as a medium and the soil-air interface presented for the required communication, so Soil Scout designed a proprietary protocol which still complies with requirements for the 870/915 MHz licence free band," the CEO says.

The company says it is working with Deutsche Telekom on the agricultural IoT tech. "We are already working with Deutche Telekom and open to other possible mobile operator partners," says CEO Talola.

Talola says that its latest funding will be spent on international sales and R&D, and make the system more customer-friendly, and interoperable with different third systems. The company's main market segment is "high-value agriculture, especially horticulture and vineyards, golf-courses and sports fields," the CEO says.

The funding for Soil Scout hasn't been disclosed. This is the choice of the Husqvarna Group, the lead investor, Talola says. The CEO says the funding will help Soil Scout "to scale globally and last for the next 24 months."

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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