Digitizing agriculture with Syngenta

Famines and food security are challenges of our time that can be addressed using IoT technology for agricultural crops. In collaboration with our partner Syngenta Crop Protection, we have developed a versatile soil sensor that records and wirelessly provides measurement data. This allows for monitoring, intervention, and, most importantly, drawing conclusions that can be helpful in planning future crop cycles.

The Challenge

In plant breeding, even minimal changes in soil conditions can have a significant impact on the quality of the harvest. Depending on the soil type, the earth can store and absorb more or less water. Poor water delivery to the plants can affect their growth and health. Especially in the case of uniform irrigation of larger areas, it can happen that some areas are too wet or too dry.

Furthermore, it is challenging to accurately record the data of various plant types, soil types, and other individual parameters and analyze them afterward to optimize production. Even when sensor technology is used, it often requires manual data retrieval or has very short battery life, making long-term studies a difficult endeavor. Especially when field trials are distributed around the world and conducted by various individuals in very different locations, there is often a lack of necessary consistency in the data sets. Collecting data also leads to new insights regarding pest control and other insights that only emerge when various parameters are collected and compared across numerous field trials and over longer periods.

Syngenta Crop Protection has recognized these problems and, in collaboration with Valenco, the parent company of Cital, sought a robust and scalable solution as part of a development project. The result is the LoRaWAN®-enabled Soil Sensor from Cital. Such IoT devices enable the automatic monitoring of crops and provide valuable data that was previously collected manually, as well as the control of systems and devices throughout the operation.

Our Solution

With our swissmade IoT sensor, produced in-house, customers can measure soil moisture and soil temperature in various fields around the world during the cultivation of their agricultural products. Using LoRaWAN® technology, whose long-range, low-power wireless sensors can transmit data from the field to the cloud over private or public networks, farmers have easy access to a wealth of information they can use to improve their operations. The hardware we’ve developed, in conjunction with the transmission protocol, ensures that the sensors can provide more than five years of battery life, depending on settings, making them ideal for use in infrequently visited or hard-to-reach locations. If there is no radio signal available at the customer’s location, we either work to provide network coverage or supply sensors in what is called the logger mode. This means they record all necessary data over a certain period and automatically send it to the cloud afterward. Unlike other products, our logging period lasts for more than a year.

Initial prototype trials with the Cital Soil Sensor in the USA.

One of our key priorities in developing this device was to make it as user-friendly as possible. “Reduced to the Max” is our motto when it comes to product design. The Soil Sensor can be easily installed and put into operation within minutes. With the renowned Watermark sensor incorporated to record water potential, it measures plant-available water. This ensures that the actual water stress of the plant can be simulated, and any issues can be addressed locally with a dense distribution in the field. Trends can be observed centrally from the office on a dashboard, allowing for timely action to be taken. Furthermore, customer data is collected long-term via API and analyzed in big data pools to gain insights into which factors influence successful harvests.

Our sensor, however, is not only directly beneficial in agriculture but can also be used in green spaces, parks, or orchards to optimize plant care and detect problems in a timely manner. Every modern company relies to a great extent on its ability to manage resources efficiently in order to reduce environmental impact, minimize costs, and maximize yields. Our LoRaWAN® expertise and sensor technology ensure that the Internet of Things becomes truly tangible and delivers real-world benefits.


  • Reduced crop losses due to disease or adverse weather conditions
  • Developing an understanding of the factors that determine plant growth and yields
  • Cost savings through reduced use of fertilizers, pesticides, and consumables
  • Ensuring food security
  • Higher crop yields
  • Reduced labor input
  • Fewer manual rounds and transportation costs

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