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Many urban farming start-ups and innovators have developed smart devices and also offer services, for setting up smart gardens for clients. The trend of urban farming/ gardening using modern technology, is on the rise among millennials who wish to grow fresh greens inside or outside their houses. Gardening chores, such as mowing or watering the lawn have become easier and even space constraints are being overcome, with hydroponic vertical gardening.
“Smart farming techniques like automated irrigation systems and automated nutrient systems, give a hassle-free growing experience for people with busy schedules,” says Amal Mathew, director of operations at Ela Sustainable Solutions.
Now, let us look at some smart features and devices that can make a garden flourish and also make gardening a laid-back activity.
Self-watering smart pot
Self-watering pots are now making it easy for plant lovers to nurture greens at home. There are various companies which offer self-watering pots in India in different sizes, shapes and colours. Self-watering pots work on a reservoir system using capillary action to moisten the soil. It has a container which one has to fill with the water. There is an overflow hole for the extra water to drain. The soil absorbs water from the bottom, so as long as the reservoir is filled the plants get a consistent level of moisture, delivered to their roots.
Today, one can buy a complete gardening kit, with the growing medium, seeds and self-watering pots. “The Salad Garden kit is one such convenient system, where users can water the plant once a week or in 15 days. The plants automatically take the required water. The science of self-watering depends on the potting mix,” says Mani HK, partner, Greenopia Bengaluru.
Maintenance-free green wall
One can add lush greenery on any wall with special moss frames. These can brighten up any interior and are maintenance-free. “Moss is nature’s wonder plant, which takes water directly from the atmosphere. Due to the special organic treatment given to it, it does not require any maintenance for up to five to seven years,” adds Mani.
Innovative technology like hydroponics, makes it easy to grow plants on less space but with high yield. “This is a boon for urban living where time and space constraints are major challenges. The hydroponics technology or soil-less cultivation is one such way. Hydroponics uses water as the medium for growing plants. This is a sustainable growing method, which saves 80% water, when compared to conventional farming methods. Another advantage of soil-less farming is that the plants can be arranged in a vertical design, which saves space. The yield per plant is also high, when compared to traditional farming,” says Mathew.
See also: How to grow indoor plants in water
Polyhouse technology provides a controlled farming environment. This can help to control pests, temperature, humidity and other environmental factors.
“The polyhouse can have a fertigation unit that ensures regular supply of nutrients to the plants, timer-controlled irrigation systems and temperature sensors with cooling systems. Mini-polyhouses can be set up in small spaces of up to 100 sq ft, to grow tomatoes, cabbage, capsicum, cucumber, ladies finger and other leafy greens in the backyard, rooftop or even inside the house,” adds Mathew.
Smart sprinklers and automatic lawn mowers
The smart sprinklers that work on internet-based technology are a boon, as one can adjust, control and monitor them through a smartphone. The smart sprinkler uses precise quantities of water through drip irrigation, based on the plant’s requirement.
Technology has made lawn-mowing a simple task. Robotic lawnmowers can be connected to the phone or computer to enable one to easily set a schedule for mowing the lawn and to monitor its progress. Robotic lawnmowers use state-of-the-art mapping and GPS navigation systems, to move about in the garden area.
Smart garden lighting
A smart garden light is an outdoor lighting fixture that can be controlled over the wireless network, using an app on your phone or a smart home assistant. Smart garden lights also have features that allow control over the brightness, timing and colours. Adding a motion sensor to the smart garden lights, can not only offer convenience but also save energy. One can also opt for solar-powered lights for the garden, according to the budget, power requirements and garden design.
See also: How to set up a backyard garden
However, before you invest in smart gardening technologies, remember that these may require significant investment. Hence, do a proper research about the technology you wish to invest in.
What is polyhouse technology?
Polyhouse is a type of greenhouse, where special polythene sheets are used as covering materials, to create a controlled environment where crops can be grown.
How do smart gardens work?
Smart gardens involve the use of technology and automated systems that provide light, watering, fertiliser and maintain the right ambient temperature for the plants to grow.