Introduction to the Automated Food Gardener

There are a plethora of reasons to automate a system, it can minimise the amount of time required to maintain the system, it can become more reliable, it can even perform more optimally than it could even managed by the best suited person, and the reasons can go on and on. The  thing to keep in mind when automating any system is that all of the things it can do only actually happen if it works as intended.  Many attempts at automation can end up consuming more time and resources than the original task and will end up performing worse than a manually managed system. 

For this project, it is my goal to automate and optimize the growing of food crops.  Ideally it would be managed in such a way so that there would be enough available yields to provide a single person enough to be a significant source of their daily nutritional requirements.  Also the system should operate on a minimum footprint, consume a minimum of resources and require minimal user input. 

I’m beginning with a system that will initially monitor and record the following data over time:

1. Ambient Light
2. Ambient Temperature
3. Ambient Humidity

From there the system will be extended to include control mechanisms which will have the means to alter those three parameters inside of the small greenhouse that I will be using to develop this system.  I will further extend it to include a means of monitoring and controlling a hydroponics/aeroponics growing system.  Additional optimization of the system will be required to meet the yield targets, especially throughout the year.  A means of monitoring the yields directly by the controller will also be required.  The entire control and monitoring system should be solar powered, with sufficient storage capability to maintain operations throughout the night and in lowlight conditions.

The breakdown of individal projects is:

Ambient Condition Monitor
Ambient Condition Controller
Hydro/Aeroponics Controller
Yield Monitor
MQQT interface

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