In an effort to become more trim and efficient, everything in life has been given a miniature electronic brain. The car knows when its is not burning at the perfect air to fuel ratio, the thermostat knows when you go to bed so it can turn down the heat a bit, and now plants can send a text, notifying the gardener that it is thirsty. Farming is getting even more high-tech and now plants can be precision watered, conserving resources and helping the environment. Apologies to all the Lord of the Rings nerds out there, the text messages will not be in Old Entish.
There are reports aplenty buzzing around on the interwebs about a slip on water sensor that attaches directly to a plant leaf and sends a text message or e-mail when it is time to be watered. Many sources are attributed to be working on this, from the Israeli government whose number one concern is water conservation to NASA, which is looking to be able to conserve resources while cultivating plants in space. Regardless of who creates the product, the methodology is much the same. A sensor is slipped onto the plant leaf that connects a tiny electrical current through the water in the plant tissue. Once the water goes away, the current is broken and a signal is sent to a computer, which results in a message sent to the gardener indicating which plant is thirsty.
The Israeli government says that their product will cost about $250 to wire up a 5,000 tree orchard. This number is about 5 cents per plant which means the cost per plant could easily be recovered for a large farm that has high water and electricity bills associated with feeding their plants in a matter of minutes. Of course every plant would not need to be “chipped”. Perhaps only 1 in 100 plants would need this sensor to be sufficiently representative of the entire fleet of plants. There are still a few questions that have not been answered before farmers can allocate part of their water budget to a “new Porsche fund”.