App note: The Phytochrome system – Why use far-red?

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App note from Würth Elektronik on why plants evolved to use far-red wavelengths and why it is essential for them. Link here (PDF)

The light requirement of plants is now known to be far more complex than originally thought leading to the development of numerous LED technologies that produce a variety of different light spectra, both monochromatic and polychromatic.

Far-red encompasses wavelengths 700 – 800 nm, a region of light that is on the edge of visibility in humans. However, these wavelengths have been proven to result in faster growth, increased biomass and better sensory characteristics (e.g. smell, taste, texture, color).

Cheap plant watering sensor

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A detailed instructions of how to design a cheap plant watering sensor from LuckyResistor:

I have a couple of plants in flowerpots and this plants not only like some light, they also need water from time to time. Watering this plants is something I often forget, with sad results. There are ready made solutions for this, but I have some objections with all of them. To be clear: There are really smart products out there – it is absolutely nothing wrong with them. It is just as I like to build my own fan controller, I like to build my own plant watering sensor in my very own fashion.

More info at Luckyresistor.me.

The Internet Of Dirt, A Texting Plant

We will all at some point have forgotten to water a plant. If we’re lucky then the limp vegetation we return to will magically revive when we rush to water it, if not then we have the shame of an empty plant pot to remind us of our folly.

No matter, you might be thinking, we can bring technology to bear on the problem, and automate it with a microcontroller! [Bonnie] has done just that, with a capacitive soil sensor feeding an ESP8266-based Adafruit Feather HUZZAH, which in turn logs soil humidity data with the Adafruit IO online service. An IFTTT applet monitors the data, and triggers a notification when moisture falls to the point at which watering is required.

The Instructables write-up gives a comprehensive step-by-step guide to the whole process, including the code, so it’s a project that almost anyone could try as well as a basic introduction to using an online service with a piece of hardware. We can’t help asking, though, whether it might have been better to have had the system do the watering rather than merely administer a prod to its fleshy horticulturist creator. Perhaps that’s left to anyone else building one to add as an enhancement.

Quite a few plant watering automation projects have found their way onto these pages over the years, from this one using car parts to a system with an impressively simple valve made by compressing a flexible pipe. The ultimate watering device though has to be this fully autonomous greenhouse robot.


Filed under: green hacks