The Connected Garden

Manufacturing Process Control

 For many decades now industrial manufacturers have been increasing production, reducing waste and lowering costs by monitoring and automating their production processes. The ISO 9000 standards were created to help manufacturers achieve these goals. Manufacturers began collecting data on their processes, charting the trends, automating systems to make changes as needed. This new process control helped increase profits but also helped manufacturers to experiment and test changes in the process with measurable results.

The Connected Farm

Farming has many factors that vary from year to year and day to day. The amount of sun, rain, soil conditions, insect populations can be impossible or difficult to manage. Because of this variability, process control and monitoring did not grow as quickly in agriculture as in the manufacturing sector. However mega-farms did realize that monitoring and automation could give them an advantage over farms that were not “connected”. One of the biggest advantages was in reduced water use. As productivity increased and costs decreased greenhouse garden became more economically feasible. Mega-greenhouses were built with very sophisticated monitoring and automation systems.

The Connected Garden

Recently the cost of sensors and automation hardware and software has decreased significantly. This now makes it possible for small gardens to implement monitoring and automation just like the mega-farms. This is very exciting because small gardens can now have greater production for less costs. Gardens can be located indoors, without soil, and with very little water consumption. There are also support groups that can help gardeners install and manage their systems.

The Internet of Things is making it possible to connect very small devices to the internet. A homeowner can now easily connect their garden to automation software running on the internet and be alerted if the temperature is too high or low or even turn on water if soil moisture drops. This makes it possible for a homeowner to monitor and manage their garden remotely.

To see how the farm at Garinger is connected read the Garinger Sensor Network.