Using sensors (to detect water level, pH and temperature), microprocessors (mostly the open-source Arduino microcontroller), relay cards, clouds and social media networks, Maundu has programmed his gardens to tweet when there’s a problem (e.g. not enough water) or when there’s news (e.g. an over-abundance of food to share) - faircompanies.com
YOUTUBE 3IryIOyPfTE Internet of food: Arduino-based, urban aquaponics in Oakland - kijanigrows.com
Maundu himself ran from agriculture in his native Kenya- where he saw it as a struggle for land, water and resources. This changed when he realized he could farm without soil and with little water via aquaponics and that he could apply his robotics background to farming. “I feel knowledge of electronics and software programming makes me a better farmer than just having a hoe. Gardens that can communicate for themselves using the internet can lead to exchanging of ideas in ways that were not possible before. I can test, for instance, whether the same tomato grows better in Oakland or the Sahara Desert given the same conditions. Then I can share the same information with farmers in Iceland and China.”
Luckily, I met the entrepreneurial innovators at Portland Purple Water, a company that provides rainwater harvesting and aquaponics systems. They introduced me to a system Franz Schreier. Franz' design and prototype of an Aquaponics Solar Greenhouse is the most advanced I've seen. It's designed to operate without any external energy input.
Technical Note: His greenhouse combines everything from special coatings on the greenhouse glass (better performance than standard glass) to rotating solar panels (to use the light energy the plants can't use) to PAR light films (these films can shift light from green, a color that plants don't use much for photosynthesis, to other usable colors) to a sulfur plasma lamp (an artificial light source that can mimic the sun).
Portland Purple Water are trying to raise the money, using Kickstarter, to build a larger version of this system.
Here are the goals:
Scott Yelton (he's a partner at Portland Purple Water) is building a blog and discussion zone for donors (like me) and CSA members to participate in the construction of the system.
Demonstrate the viability of an Aquaponics CSA (community supported agriculture). The difference between this type of CSA and traditional ones is that this CSA can supply members with weekly baskets of produce throughout the ENTIRE year.
Use the system as an incubator for other aquaponics efforts." - p2pfoundation.net