Technology is increasingly becoming a major part of agriculture. LED bulbs are now being used to grow food on a larger scale and could revolutionize urban farming. Farmers around the world are installing smart irrigation systems that can be controlled with smartphones. Technology has also popped up in our home gardens with plenty of smartphone-based systems that tell you when to water your plants and more. Throughout the years, we've seen a lot of smart gardening products, some useful and some not so much.
A new automated home garden system has hit Kickstarter and it might be the most interesting one I've seen. The Grove is a bookshelf-sized growing station consisting of three different layers. The top layer is the main growing area where greens, herbs and small fruits like strawberries, tomatoes and small peppers are planted. Full spectrum, adjustable LED bulbs provide the light and are automated to mimic the sun.
On the middle level is a smaller seedling bed where larger plants can be started and microgreens like wheatgrass can be grown.The bottom level is a 25-gallon fish tank. The fish tank is sort of the heart of the system, providing both water and fertilizer for the plants. The waste fish poop and ammonia becomes nitrate for the plants, while the plants provide clean water back to the fish tank. It creates a full ecosystem where the plants and fish benefit from each other.
The system can be monitored and controlled with a smartphone. Once a user chooses which plants to grow, they choose them in the app and the system is then configured to the optimum setting for those plants. It also gives updates and tells you when to take actions like when plants should be harvested or when your fish tank needs more fish or any other care, but the system mainly takes care of itself.
The creators say that by utilizing the seedling bed along with the main growing station, users should have a constant supply of greens. They estimate that a user can expect to harvest the equivalent of two to three bags of salad greens every week or eight to 10 heads of lettuce every 20 days, along with any other fruits you decide to grow.
The system is impressive and would make for a great educational piece in the home or a school, but it's also pricey. If you get in with an early bird pledge, The Grove will be yours for $2,700, but after the Kickstarter campaign it will go for about $4,500. That hasn't stopped people from pledging though. The campaign has already well-surpassed its goal of $100,000 as of this writing and it still has 36 days to go.