Project by Erin, Inez, Ziyi, and Cody
Our motivation is the struggle of growing certain types of plants in the desert. The ground is dry, and pH levels are hard to balance. Similarly, plants are prone to being destroyed by pests, but pesticides have a very harmful impact on the environment.
Is there a way to make plants hardy enough for different environments, while avoiding methods harmful to the ecosystem?
So far, people have used kombucha scoby to balance the pH of a plant environment. It is usually placed on the surface around a plant after it has begun to grow. The downside to this attracts bugs.
Another project in progress is by a company called Pivot Bio. Their research lies in breeding microbes to cover plant seeds and defend it from predators without the use of pesticides, while also yielding healthier fruit. This project is mainly for mass producing farmers, however, and most likely will not be accessible to the average gardener for a while.
We want to make healthy gardening accessible.
In short, we want to make a gardening kit of sorts that provides the basic capabilities of microbe plants without the cost.
The kit would include:
A seed of your choice (most likely a plant that is resistant to more acidic environments)
Biodegradable empty tea bag
Small amount of minced kombucha scoby
All that is required of the person is to combine all of the elements in the tea bag, dampen it with water, and plant the entire thing in the ground.
The scoby should act similarly to the microbial tests of Pivot Bio, but is far cheaper and easy to produce at home. It balances the pH and defends from pests- something that is much more effective when placed into the soil alongside the seed.
For sensing purposes, we will build a pH and soil sensing Arduino setup, with an LCD screen as an output.
Ideally, they will be sold in cheap kits of differing seed types. Additionally, there will be encouragement to try to create your own setup, with emphasis on DIY gardening. The electronic sensors, however, would probably be sold separately or as part of a larger kit.
We are hoping for the impact to be something similar to a gardening culture. People could very easy grow their own food, and do so in a healthy manner for the environment. Kombucha and the scoby production would become far more well known- entire businesses could sprout up for providing people with ingredients to feed their garden. Industries will begin to grasp a feasible replacement for harmful pesticides. Not only will this benefit the environment, but the farmers themselves. Scoby (or microbes) are far cheaper to produce than the massive amount of chemicals needed for large fields. The resulting crop is also healthier, plentiful, and hardier- strengthening future generations of the crop.
The group work will be divided up as follows:
Erin: Documentation and presentation
Cody: Arduino setup
Inez and Ziyi: Scoby supply and visual setup