Inventing Tech for Farming

Over the weekend, participants at the second annual Agri-Tech East hackathon in Cambridge had 48 hours to find new ways to monitor plants so farmers can respond to the effects of climate change. The teams had access to a tech pantry of micro controllers, motors, sensors and switches including the recently released Raspberry Pi 4.

A group from eCO-SENSE focussed on a novel way of using the energy of plant growth to create a battery to power a data monitoring device in the field. It works like a soil battery, but with enough energy to power a small Arduino style WiFi/LoRa capable device called an ESP8266.

Last minute adjustments before the presentations. Photo: Sharon Jones

Jon Paterson, who co-ran the event, said “With this device if the plants are growing, you get data. The battery only stops if your plants die, and if that happened you'd know you have a problem.” Their project is going to be trialled in small farms in India.

The winning team, Alpaca Punch, used a Raspberry Pi 3 with a camera to identify and count beetles.

A team designing an app using agriculture data. Photo: Eagle Labs

Header photo: Team Ecosense planning their project, taken by Agri-Tech East.

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