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Plants

Science

Tiny, cheap water-sensing chip outperforms larger, pricier sensors

Whether you're growing wine grapes or mixing cement, there are some situations in which it's vitally important to monitor moisture content. Normally water sensors are used, although these can be both large and expensive. Now, however, a team from Cornell University has created a water-sensing silicon chip that's not only tiny, but is also reportedly "a hundred times more sensitive than current devices." What's more, the chips might be possible to mass-produce for just $5 a pop. Read More

Environment

Oil spill-absorbing material inspired by cactus needles

When an oil spill occurs at sea, there are already a number of possible options for gathering the oil that floats in a layer on the water’s surface. Some of the oil also forms into tiny suspended droplets, however, which have proven much more difficult to gather. Now, Chinese scientists have developed what could be a solution – and it owes a debt to the humble cactus needle. Read More

Science

FLOW-AID helps farmers save water without sacrificing yields

We’ve already seen gadgets such as Koubachi and Flower Power, that communicate with users’ smartphones to let them know when their houseplants need watering. Scale that idea up to an agricultural level, and you get a prototype device known as the Farm Level Optimal Water management Assistant for Irrigation under Deficit – or FLOW-AID. It’s designed to let farmers in drought-stricken regions know when and how much water to apply to their crops, so they don’t run their irrigation systems unnecessarily. Read More

Around The Home

Nourishmat takes some of the guesswork out of gardening

If you have a green thumb, then you probably don’t think it’s all that difficult to plant and tend a vegetable garden. That said, there are many people who would like to grow their own veggies, but are intimidated by things like watering, weeding, choosing the correct plants, along with getting the spacing and planting-depth of the seeds right. It’s for these aspiring gardeners that San Francisco-based company Earth Starter has created the Nourishmat. Read More

Around The Home

Bitponics connects your urban garden to the cloud

Don't want to ask your creepy neighbor to check on your plants while you're on vacation? Take care of them from the cloud, instead. One of the latest products in the burgeoning Internet of Things, the Bitponics system is a "personal gardening assistant" designed to make hydroponics gardening easier. The system connects the garden to the cloud, letting gardeners keep an eye on their plants and exercise their green thumb even when they're away. Read More

Water Balance reminds you to love your houseplants

Most of us, at one time or another, have forgotten to water houseplants or flowers sitting in a vase in our homes. It's very easy to do, particularly if you have a busy lifestyle and one too many chores to do each day. If only housebound flowers and plants had a way of communicating with us their need for a drink ... Now they do, thanks to Water Balance.Read More

Environment

Plug into a plant: A new approach to clean energy harvesting

Millions of years of evolution has resulted in plants being the most efficient harvesters of solar energy on the planet. Much research is underway into ways to artificially mimic photosynthesis in devices like artificial leaves, but researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) are working on a different approach that gives new meaning to the term “power plant.” Their technology harvests energy generated through photosynthesis before the plants can make use of it, allowing the energy to instead be used to run low-powered electrical devices.Read More

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