Growing a smart garden with wireless tools

The Edyn Garden Sensor, developed by soil scientist, Jason Aramburu, helps farmers track the light, temperature, and soil nutrition affecting their garden's growth.

Steven Senne/AP/File
A vegetable garden grows in front of a home in Uncasville, Conn.

The Edyn Garden Sensor is a wireless, solar-powered device that uses the Internet to track changes in soil and the environment around farms. Then, the sensor sends information to farmers about light, temperature, soil nutrition, and other information regarding her/his farm via an app. As a result, farmers know more about what their crops need.  

Edyn, formerly known as Soil IQ, was founded in 2013 by soil scientist Jason Aramburu with the vision of changing the way people with small gardens or farms grow food.

Aramburu explains the impetus behind the venture at a TechCrunch Disrupt meet in San Francisco in 2013: “The reality in this country, and much of the world, is that most of our food is produced on [factory farms]. These farms are great for producing corn, soybeans, grains, but not so good for producing healthy food. [They are] also bad for the environment.”

The Edyn team of scientists, technologists, and designers has since set out to develop a user-friendly smart gardening system which may make it easier for even the most inexperienced gardeners to grow their own nutritious and organic food. 

Once planted into a garden’s soil and connected to Wi-Fi, the Edyn Garden Sensor measures conditions like humidity, temperature, moisture, soil nutrition, pH, and light in that garden on a continuous basis. This collected data is cross-referenced with existing plant databases, soil science, and weather information to provide users with guidance tailored to their specific land and plants. The information is then conveyed to gardeners through the Edyn app allowing gardeners to know more about when their plants need fertilizer, light, and water. Users are not only alerted to current changes, but they can also access historical trends unique to their local environment. 

Through the mix of current and historical data of a specific microclimate, Edyn makes recommendations such as which plants thrive in a particular area, which plants grow well together, and which fertilizer best suits a particular soil type. It also keeps data on the growth stages and needs of every crop growing in a user’s garden, and it advises the gardener on the ideal set of conditions required to best care for each one. The company also recently launched the Edyn Water Valve that automatically provides plants with the right amount of water based on weather and moisture data picked up from the Garden Sensor.

Edyn has begun by primarily targeting consumers that grow their own food as a way to crowdsource agricultural data. The company already has a database of more than 5,000 plant varieties, but Aramburu believes more data is needed in the agricultural sphere.

“Farmers know all this information anecdotally, but there’s no data on how to grow things like Alpine strawberries or Purple Haze tomatoes,” Aramburu says, “So our strategy is to source that data from consumers who are consuming this stuff, eating it, and producing it, and then go after small to medium sized ag.”

Having previously worked with farmers in East Africa to improve yields using funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Aramburu wants to continue to make an impact in the region through Edyn. The company has partnered with French telecom giant Orange to deliver its technology, along with data connectivity, to farmers in Kenya at a lower cost.

The Garden Sensor and Water Valve, both designed with the help of industrial designer Yves Béhar, are sold at US$99.99 and US$69.00, respectively, on Edyn’s website. They are also available at Home Depot stores.

Edyn’s goal is to make it easier for small-scale food producers to become more productive and confident growers, even while retaining full-time careers and other household duties. The precision technology is built to help users conserve water, reduce waste, and farm more sustainably. 

This article first appeared at Food Tank.

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