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 beĀ this fully autonomous greenhouse robot.

10 thoughts on “The Internet Of Dirt, A Texting Plant

  1. Nice project, would be great for learning all the IoT fundamentals, but if you are going to use a moisture sensor it would make more sense to have it under the plant near the deepest roots. This means that the DIY ones that can be deeper are probably superior to the plug and play type. The one shown here seems most suitable because you can easily make it to suit the size of the containers you have each plant in. http://gardenbot.org/howTo/soilMoisture/

    1. Also check ebay for titanium rods, thin ones of a suitable length are very cheap (under USD $1.50 a pair), and they will not corrode so their characteristics should be stable over a long time.

      1. Great link, thanks for sharing. For the containers we were working with, the storebought sensors were fine, but for a more robust solution I agree that the custom route makes more sense.

      2. Ah Ha! Thanks!

        That’s what I came down to the comments section for. I wanted to ask what the answer is if you want a more permanent solution. I see these projects where somebody pushes a PCB into the dirt or a couple nails or something like that all the time but I am skeptical that it would survive long.

        I wonder… would titanium work in a sump well to measure the water level? The water is just rain water which has filtered through the ground. It often carries some sand or dissolved clay with it which does seem to be corrosive to the metals which I have tried. Would titanium develop enough of an oxide skin that it would no longer function?

      1. They are censoring posts, they have done it from time to time for a while, and lied about it. Personally I’d rather deal with an honest bastard than a dishonest “do gooder”. Unless a post is clearly “criminal” (and some HAD articles potentially are themselves, in some jurisdictions.) I see no reason for it to be censored.

        So welcome to the IoH, the Internet of Hypocrites.

          1. Thanks, Omnomynous is actually me in order to get around someone (temporarily?) Yarr.
            I noticed it started around my posts getting censored hence I hinted with the site being “Spammed”.

            To prove I was Omnomynous: nobody at nowhere dot com. (or something like it) and I purposely changed my writing signature (yes even these bracketed side thoughts and further info snippets are part of my signature… sort of, and the long reply-posts)

            I was here to see how the ideas for this post evolves and noticed the comment at the top disappear after pressing F5 between eating, cleaning and reading. I also spotted some other posts just disappear as I read up on the using the dimmer for an LED (i’ll wait till work tomorrow to revisit that one as I got side tracked with this).

            I F5 alot to see if someone has come up with something better-related or so on…. (I Just flood my memory with information, then forget most of it before recapping half back into memory, hence some of my mix-ups).

            Also (to confirm/boost your claim) I have noticed some censorship, but not too certain yet if it was Yarr (and his other handles) or actual censorship.

            Apologies to all for such an off-topic “reply” (reply was to Dan tho, that’s why)

      2. We don’t censor posts except when they’re plain abusive, or spam. And as everyone can see, we’re pretty laissez-faire about the former.

        There is an automatic frontend that screens everything. Questionable material or sources gets sent to the moderation queue where we have a second look. It unfortunately gets a lot of first-time posters. We look through the comment queue a few times a day and they get through eventually — sorry for the delay, but comment moderation is no fun. :)

        Reporting a comment sends it back to moderation, eventually. It takes a number of reports from unique IPs to send something back. Someone _could_ game the system, but they’d get bored pretty soon because we review all questionable comments manually, and if it was fine the first time, it’s likely fine the second time. The “report posts” is a second-opinion on our basically hand-off approach.

        We certainly don’t have any shadowy “censoring posts” agenda — that would take too damn much time and be incredibly boring. Who would take such a job? Not I. If things get out of hand, we might have to. But like I said. Boring.

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