The word ‘technology’ conjures up a world of computers, robots, chips, and other man-made hardware. It is a realm of somewhat cold, dark-coloured objects, far removed from the natural world. Yet, much technology can work in harmony with nature. That is the essence and aim of agritech startup RDI.
Alexa, water my plant
RDI is the creator of the GrowStream™ tube, which uses responsive technology to sense the chemical signals plants release when they need water. GrowStream™ then releases water and nutrients to the plants and stops once the signals have ceased, delivering a “precision irrigation system”.
The benefits of GrowStream™ are manifold—firstly, it saves water, only providing what the plant needs and preventing any excess that would come with manual watering. This is especially beneficial in regions suffering from droughts or water shortages. Secondly, it reduces the manpower needed for farming, automating the process of delivering water and nutrients to plants. With Bear Flag Robotics’ Farm Data Report finding that 73% of respondents “were extremely concerned about a lack of skilled labour”, this technology has the potential to help alleviate the pressure felt by the agricultural workforce.
A scientific sonnet
A system such as GrowStream™ is an almost poetic science. It listens to nature, senses her needs, and nourishes her. It is a man-made commensalism that showcases the quiet beauty and ingenuity of technology.
Countless other examples of precision farming technology have been released into the world, including wireless sensors for data collection (from climate data to soil water data) and AI for weed and pest detection. The beauty of agritech is in its purpose: nurturing the environment, sprouting stems from seeds and leaves from stems.
Agritech, by no small feat of human brainpower, is able to support the creation of life. It is our very own midwife as we plant, cultivate, and harvest. In a world of screens and machines, watching the world bloom with the aid of sensors and drip systems may help us foster a more meaningful relationship with technology.
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As American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson so clearly directed in his treatise Nature: “Build therefore your own world.” With technology, we can go further than building, to cultivate an environment that truly receives as much as she gives.