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Farm Geeks: Learning to Love the Circuit Board

farm-geek-circuit-board

Farm Geeks: Learning to Love the Circuit Board

Steve Spence, an amateur organic farmer in Andrew, South Carolina, has a smart way of irrigating his vegetables. He uses water from his pond and the fish waste to fertilize his plants, a technique known as aquaponics. But the critical balance between the makeup of the water and soil means Spence has to know exactly what’s going on in both. Real-time information about the pond’s make up is imperative to know he’s giving his veggies the best drink of water.

Sensors are commercially available, but Spence found them too expensive and not nearly as flexible as he needed — ”they can only do the function you purchased them for.” So he decided to customize his own. Now he monitors the water’s pH, temperature and ammonia levels, along with soil temperature, moisture levels and barometric pressure, all from a system he built himself — on the cheap.

This is what happens when maker culture — specifically, projects made using the popular, flexible Arduino boards — comes to the farm and garden. From aquaponics to weather stations, farmers are starting to embrace the modern trends of DIY tech.


Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

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