Scientists Have Created Smart, Soil-Free Microgarden

SproutsIO: Smart Microgarden.


A scientist at MIT has spent almost a decade innovating urban farming, designing small and large-scale gardening systems. The commercial release of her app-controlled, soil-free microgarden will allow users to customize and operate the growth of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

MIT Media Lab alumna Jennifer Broutin Farah named this system SproutIO. This soil-free micro garden uses only 2% of water and 40% of the nutrients typically used for soil-grown plants.

In reality, this soil-free microgarden is a holistic system for growing a wide variety and meaningful quantity of produce for home growers. It consists of a growing device, which is a large basin with a curving. The device is an adjustable lamp attached. There is a replaceable and compostable ‘sIO’ seed that refill growing media, seeds, and nutrients.

Its software, SproutsIOGrow collects and analyzes growth data and controls the system. In short, it includes everything you need to grow with no hidden add-ons all in one thoughtfully designed experience.

Scientists Have Created Smart, Soil-Free Microgarden
Image Credit: MIT

Farah explained, “Over 60 years, we’ve gotten out of touch with growing our food. But when you grow your own food, you care more about what happens to it. You’re not going to throw it away; you’re going to know exactly what’s going into your plants, and you’re going to share your food with friends and family. It gives a new meaning to produce.”

“This hybrid hydro culture system consists of ‘hydroponic’ and ‘aeroponic’ growing, where roots are submerged in or missed with water and nutrients. This optimizes water and nutrient use while supporting the growth of different plants at different phases. For example, a tomato plant grows large roots during the fruiting stage.”

The LED light automatically adjusts as per requirement. It will automatically dim itself down when the device is located in sunlight. The system uses about half the electricity of a 60-watt incandescent light bulb.

A user needs to plugin SproutsIO via its app; they then need to place the sIO seed refill in the basin. The camera will recognize the plants are growing, and the user needs to confirm the recommended settings.

Farah said, “This technology will let us understand how plants grow. Most of us don’t understand how plants grow because they exist on a different time scale. But we show people how the plants grow over time and how they react to certain changes. That’s eye-opening.”

Growing is so efficient with SproutsIO; a user just needs to add water on average once a month. The user will also not need pesticides to grow the plants.

In other words, this SproutsIO is a modular design to expand your garden wherever you want. There is no limit to how much you can grow.


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