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Internet of Farming: Arduino Aquaponics — 7 Comments

  1. I’m very impressed. The man thinks on his feet. Thinking and creating these are the one that make things change and happen for the rest of the world.
    As an inventor, a farmer, and a fellow thinker. It a privilege to see others in the game. Commend you on your progress and would like to assist as well.

  2. Certainly an interesting start. Probably more useful to apply microcontrol with other crops or feedstock processing, not easy-to-grow annuals. One or two fruit trees would produce way more food with way less work. I see no virtue in being able to monitor my greens from a windowless attic bunker, or in buying huge PVC pipes to grow them in. “You don’t have to touch anything, other than put it in the ground, and pick it.” This is not true or desireable. But sure, techniques worth mastering.

  3. I disagree about the comment of being able to monitor greens from a distance. Every year I use soil blocks to start my annuals, primarily Solanaceous vegetables indoors. Usually this operation begins sometime in February/March. Within 24 hours of germination, I have to watch them like a hawk for damping off if they stay in the incubation chamber. Too much heat and humidity, and I can lose 50% to 100% of my crop within 3 hours. The challenge is not everything germinates uniformly, so you must monitor carefully. The ideal is to remove the recently germinated to a drier, cooler environment, but I can’t always do this because I’m not always home. After they’ve been moved out, they risk drying out. I like to provide as much natural light as possible, but on a sunny day indoors in NM, these small little things with an almost non-existent root system can dry out quickly. If I have something that I can use to give me a visual feed, shut on off lighting, shut on off heat source, and gauge soil moisture, then in theory I could eliminate mortality almost completely (provided I monitor and adjust). Oh, and something to release water into the growth trays would be good too.

  4. Frank

    Welcome back.

    Thanks so much for posting this video. I’m very impressed with the gentleman’s system, but have some concerns.

    Complexity. Complex systems do tend to fail in spectacular fashion. This system relies on city water,(chlorine etc?) a functioning, reliable electricity delivery system, an internet that is reliable 24/7, and a supply stream of plastic and electronics that I would wager is not produced locally. Of course, rainwater capture and an off-the-grid power source could be incorporated to make the system more resilient. The supply stream of equipment is a problem. Availability and affordability are certainly concerns when dealing with so many components. Having a stock of spare parts adequate for the long haul may again bring up the affordability aspect.

    I commend the effort to produce food in very limited space, in urban environments, with potentially portable systems. If the need for portability is not present, I believe a less complex system would be preferable. Frankly, in the space the gentleman is currently using, I believe a permaculture design with a couple of small fruit trees, vines and perennials, with a raised bed or two suited for that warm climate would yield as much or more food – no fish though – but a few chickens for sure.

    I am probably showing my age and general cussedness here – but I just do not believe that designing food production systems heavily dependent on electronics, rare earth metals and instantaneous worldwide communication, all of which are subject to a global manufacturing and distribution network with several bottlenecks, is the most resilient option.

    It’s obvious why they don’t let me out much.

    Thanks again. Keep up the good work.

    marc

    • Marc,

      Your comments are welcome and thought provoking. I think your skepticism is warranted and much appreciated, and you make many valid points. Let me try to address some of your concerns.

      First the issue of complexity. I think the system seems highly complex at first glance because it is in development. While computers are complex machines, they have become fairly standardized little self-contained boxes that are mostly easy to use. This was not the case 30 or 40 years ago; between now and then a lot of development work has gone into making computers simple and accessible. Now virtually anyone can turn on a computer and get some benefit from it. The same process will play itself out with networked electronic hardware, but it will be much faster now because of our connectivity and open source ethos.

      You also state: “This system relies on city water,(chlorine etc?) a functioning, reliable electricity delivery system, an internet that is reliable 24/7, and a supply stream of plastic and electronics that I would wager is not produced locally.”

      I would respond: what system these days doesn’t function on these inputs? Even the most sustainable of producers, Michael Phillips, for example, are using neem oil that is often produced and imported from very long distances.

      The conversation about resilience is an important one, but what does that really look like? To me, preparing for a total collapse seems like an exercise in futility. And in the event of a total collapse, will we lose all of our technology?

      I believe that if we keep enough of what we develop free and open source, we have a good chance of finding ways to produce it locally, or bioregionally, to preserve some of our technological progress, and to build a different type of civilization in the process. This may look very very different in the future, but it is not impossible to think, that even in a post-peak world, people are producing plastics, limited-supplies of arduino-like circuits, and even using computer-type devices for critical tasks like mathematics and monitoring.

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