Innovation

Is your soil moist? Ask the 10-inch sensor

As a relatively new home owner, I've decided that I really enjoy planting things and watching them grow. However, my thumbs are every color but green, and I'm clueless when it comes to plant TLC. Fortunately, I have technology on my side. It looks like a plant sensor, created by a company that's fittingly called PlantSense, will be available in the fall of 2007. See the news story: "Sensor battles senseless houseplant death."   

According to the story, "Killing plants is one of America's favorite pastimes. In 2003, Americans spent $18 billion on indoor and outdoor plants, not including grass. That's $160 per household, on average. Roughly 14 percent of plants die in the first few weeks after being bought, and another 18 percent die within five months. That 32 percent mortality rate partly explains why Americans also spent $23 billion on fertilizer and plant food in that same year."

So, what is PlantSense and how does it work? "The San Francisco-based start-up has developed a 10-inch, stake-shaped sensor that obtains information about light, moisture, soil composition and other factors that can affect plant growth and health. The sensor is placed a few inches into the soil and connected to a computer, via a USB interface, where it downloads the information to PlantSense's Web site. PlantSense can then tell users what they're doing wrong (too much sunlight, not enough fertilizer, etc.) as well as provide recommendations on what plants might grow best in a particular microclimate in a home or garden."

Sounds pretty sweet, doesn't it? In 2008, my plants will be the envy of the neighborhood. If you're sick and tired of your plants being sick and tired, why don't you use some sense.... PlantSense!

About

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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