Networked Forest Soil for Sustainable Forestry (Forest Soil 4.0)

  Forest ground Copyright: © Picography (

Key Info

Basic Information

01.03.2022 to 28.02.2023
Organizational Unit:
Chair of Machine Tools, Automation and Control
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

Research partner

    • IMST GmbH, Kamp-Lintfort
    • Institute for Man-Machine Interaction of RWTH Aachen University
    • RIF Institut für Forschung und Transfer e. V., Dortmund
    • Okeanos Smart Data Solutions GmbH, Bochum



+49 241 80 27452



The forest soil is the most important production factor in sustainable forestry. It serves as a plant site, habitat for animals, water, nutrient and carbon reservoir, and water filter. To protect it and maintain its yield capacity and ecosystem services, smart soil moisture sensors will be deployed in the forest floor. They provide an overview of the water present in the soil. This allows water balance regimes to be calculated and changes, including those related to climate change and plant-available water, to be monitored and recommendations for action derived. During timber harvesting, soil conditions, soil moisture and machine weight must be coordinated to avoid permanent damage to the technical trafficability of skid trails. So far, the soil moisture and thus the trafficability is estimated by the machine operator when reaching a skidding lane. A planning tool based on the prevailing soil moisture is to enable soil-conserving operation planning.

To make the data from the forest accessible via a cloud application, a wireless communication infrastructure is required. Soil moisture sensors using wireless technology are available, but only work where there is coverage by communication networks (e.g. LoRaWAN, Sigfox, NB-IoT). Existing radio modules for such networks rely on frequency bands at around 800 MHz in Europe and do not achieve practical ranges in forests. In this project, radio technology based on LoRa modulation in the lower-frequency ISM band at 169 MHz will be developed to enable the transport of data from the forest to the cloud due to an increase in range. Such a solution cannot be implemented with radio technology already available for license-free bands.