My grandfather was a farmer in the Middle East region and the irrigation of the crops was quite excessive. He was forced to pay a large sum for little water and sometimes would overwater plants resulting in both a poor crop yield and soil degradation. In the United States, 30% of water is used to water lawns alone and 5% of that water used is not needed. The lawn care industry is a 25 billion dollar industry and the average American spends 150 hours a year caring for their lawn. So, we decided to create a garden probe dubbed MyGarden which allows users to track vital crop condition data such as the moisture value of their plants.
What it does
MyGarden employs a system that measures soil moisture, the temperature of soil and sun exposure - among other data points. This allows our data-science based algorithms to determine the health status of the plant to ensure that the user is properly notified. We connected to the Amazon Echo Dot so the user can easily use voice commands to check on the status of their plants. Likewise, the data collected - along with crop recommendations powered by our advanced data science algorithms are displayed on a seamless dashboard.
How We built it
MyGarden is a multi-layer system - that took multiple iterations to operate at a functional level. The first part, being the physical hardware, was built using the open-source Arduino Uno along with several off-the-shelf sensors. This circuit along with its firmware will constantly monitor the data from its sensors and upload it to the MySQL database in real time. The second part was the backend database powered by MySQL with retrieval running in PHP and Node.js. Likewise, this part also included the easy-to-use online dashboard where the user can view the data being collected from their garden and gather a better understanding of their plants growing conditions. Finally, the third part was the creation of Amazon Alexa Skill featuring multiple capabilities that would help in notifying the user when their plants needed direct care. Likewise, the user can also ask Alexa several questions mainly to determine the overall health of their plant.
Challenges We ran into
We ran into a couple challenges. First, we misjudged the availability of hardware meaning that new difficulties arose. With that, we had to focus more on our moisture detections rather than temperature and sun exposure. We also had to learn how to use many different microcontrollers such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino Uno, and CHIP as different challenges came our way and the current board would lack the capability needed.
Accomplishments that We are proud of
We are very proud of MyGarden as we were able to connect it with the Amazon dot and an online dashboard. We were also able to create a basic CRUD (without the delete) API that could be used for integration of future open-source projects to put the data through our data science algorithm.
What I learned
We learned how to use different microcontrollers and we learned how to connect a sensor with an Amazon Dot and allow to ask commands based on the data we are receiving. Likewise, we also learned that redundancies and backup plans are essential when working with such trivial hardware,
What's next for MyGarden
MyGarden is a very applicable software as we can expand it to monitoring other crop condition data points - such as pH levels. We also plan on adding more plant types to improve upon our current plant database. Finally, we plan on making it waterproof through the creation of a 3d printed seal.