The problem of regularly watering our beloved plants when we are away is real. The plants we’ve been pampering with so much love and care are just left alone, on their own. And no neighbours or relatives can always come in handy. They just get annoyed too soon, you know. While a lot of urban gardeners have used a lot of different hacks and tricks, like the use of drips and other makeshift methods, for when they are away, to make sure their plants don’t suffer, none of them prove to be a hundred per cent efficient.
However, an associate professor from Gujarat, Parth Shah, came up with a solution just at the right time, by innovating a sensor that monitors the temperature, humidity, and moisture in the soil. Not only the technology keeps in check these vital parameters but also automatically irrigates your plants. In short, an innovation that solves the problem of our daily lives.
Speaking with The Earthview team, he told how the idea struck him and how it physically came into place.
“It became hard to find fresh fruits and vegetables in the market, especially after this covid pandemic. It made many people think and get into the home or terrace gardening to ensure they get healthy produce, grown right in front of their eyes,” told Parth. And this was how the concept of this innovation came to him, after noticing and realising this shift towards urban gardening.
But as Parth says, it’s not just about getting into urban farming. There are a lot of different aspects that need to be taken care of, for the healthy growth of a plant, and the person in charge of it should have a better knowledge of it to achieve the same. The right amount of sunlight, essential nutrients, and keeping in check the right amount of water in the soil are crucial for efficient maintenance and desired produce.
“At times we cannot estimate the moisture in the soil and cannot water the plants up to the right amount, which affects the plant’s health and might even wastewater if provided in excess”, he adds. The 30-year-old professor has since started working on building a system that can monitor such essential parameters in a home gardening setup. Interestingly, this innovation is also useful for farming and may have other applications too soon.
Parth made use of the Internet of Technologies (IoT) to set up a system of sensors that can assess the temperature, moisture content, and other vital parameters in the soil. The sensors, linked to the soil and a board of microcontroller units (MCU), also keep in check the temperature with humidity and, after detecting the moisture level in the soil, send data to the system. The system then reflects the data in numbers, which allows it to monitor the health of plants. It functions as a little climate control system.
“I created this android application which reflects the data on the mobile or even LCD screens of the user, which guides them to make necessary interventions,” he told us.
If the soil moisture level, which ideally should be somewhere between 10 and 45 per cent, goes below the level of 10 per cent, the sensor detects it and sends an alert to the user’s smartphone.
The Android app can signal switch on the water pump to irrigate plants and restore water content to the optimum levels.
One sensor can monitor moisture levels of up to 3 meters deep in the soil and cover an entire terrace or balcony garden. However, separate sensors will be required with each potted plant. This might add up to the total cost.
According to Parth, this setup can help in monitoring multiple greenhouse gasses with a real-time data presentation, enabling a better understanding and improved rates of production in the plantation industry.
It took Parth an investment of 1,100 and around 20 days to make the sensor. He is now exploring the commercial aspect of the device.
“The system can assist people in maintaining their gardens while they are away for work or other chores. It’s almost like a saviour for busy urban gardeners,” he concludes about his innovation.