Here are plenty of ways to kill a plant without trying. Trust me. But even hardcore gardeners have a hard time knowing what’s really happening underground. Jason Aramburu created Edyn, a Wi-Fi connected gardening system, with the goal of doing for gardens what wearables have done for our bodies.

Call it the quantified garden. The system, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, consists of a Wi-Fi-connected sensor and water valve that assesses soil nutrition and waters your plants based on actual data. Stick the sensor it in the ground, and it gathers all sorts of information—things like ambient temperature, humidity, light intensity and soil electrical properties—which gets simplified, contextualized and passed along to you, the gardener.

It’s a smart idea, if not entirely novel. Soil sensors have long been alerting us we’re this close to drowning our tomatoes, but the end goal for Edyn is much more ambitious than a creating a clever piece of hardware, says Aramburu. The real intention is to create a massive database of what plants grow well in which climates—information that Aramburu hopes can someday be used to usher in a new age of sustainable gardening and farming.

The Seeds of Inspiration

The idea for Edyn came to the soil scientist a couple years ago when he was living in Kenya working on his last project Biochar, a type of sustainable fertilizer. Aramburu realized there were few ways to verify the effectiveness of his product outside of professional soil testing. Problem was, soil testing is slow, expensive and didn’t allow him to track what was happening in real time. So Aramburu made a rough prototype of a sensor and began testing the soil himself. “It was basically a box on a stick,” he says. “These were really more for a scientist to use.”

When Aramburu moved to San Francisco last year, he knew that in order to build the massive database he’s reaching for, he’d have to make Edyn’s industrial design more accessible for the everyday gardener. He turned to Yves Behar at Fuse Project, who created a cheery diamond-shaped tool that pops out of the ground like a flower and a water valve that can be connected to an existing water system like a hose or sprinkler to control when plants get fed.

The sensor, which has a microprocessor built into its body, works by emitting a small electrical signal into the soil. “We actually measure how that signal is attenuated by the soil,” he says. A significant enough change in signal (the result of humidity, temperature, etc) will spur the sensor to send you a push notification alerting you to the new soil conditions. At the same time, this data, along with meteorological information, is telling the valve if and when it should water each plant.

An App for Context

Gathering the data is one thing, but making sense of it is an entirely different challenge, which is where Behar and his team came in. They developed a smartphone app that contextualizes all of the soil data. The app will inform you on what to grow, when to grow it and what other plants would work well alongside it. It’ll also, for example, make sure you know when there’s too much humidity in the soil or if your dirt is too acidic and could use some lime or compost.

Fuse_Edyn_Sensor_context_w2_mm_RGBClick to Open Overlay Gallery

Over time, this (anonymized) data is stored and aggregated with other Edyn users around you to form a more holistic picture of your area’s growing climate. “We’ll be able to say, ‘well, Katie is having success growing basil in Potrero Hill in San Francisco. That’s very close to you, so you might have luck growing it as well,” Aramburu explains. It’s easy to compare the Edyn system to the quantified self movement, but Edyn has the opportunity to actually build a robust, actionable set of data that personal health information could be used for because of its sensitive nature.

If adopted by enough casual gardeners, or as Aramburu hopes, smaller scale organic farmers, it could spur localized food production and actually have an impact on food supply. “We already do a really bad job of feeding the world and it’s only going to become more difficult,” says Aramburu. “I’m hoping this will become a tool to enable agriculture around the world, to help people grow their own food and increase food security.”


A szerzőről

Editor in chief - ENVIENTA News Channel

Process developer on chemical Industry. Social media manager at ENVIENTA™ Association.

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