A smart-sensing AI-driven platform for scalable, low-cost hydroponic units


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Eleni Makarona






ICT-AGRI-FOOD 2019 Joint Call

One of the biggest challenges that humanity faces in the 21st century is to devise sustainable solutions to produce more food without adverse impacts on the environment and depletion of natural resources. Hydroponics has emerged as one such solution, since it requires no arable land, reduces the usage of clean water and can be used in any urban setting to produce fresh food locally, a practice that can considerably shorten the value chain and limit food waste.

Within this framework, GOhydro aims at developing a cost-efficient smart-sensing ICT platform capable of monitoring the crops’ health and nutrient content of hydroponically cultivated microgreens in order to optimize the cultivation process and allow the harvest of the best possible products in any hydroponic installation. GOhydro aspires to culminate in the production of a radical platform that will be a shifting paradigm of how AI-driven technological innovation can become an affordable, accessible-by-all and user-friendly tool applicable to all forms of urban farming. In a nutshell, the proposal aims at creating an easy to use e-agronomist which will assist any grower to fine-tune and optimize her hydroponic production every step along the way.

Main project activities:

  • Review and analysis of the factors that affect microgreens growth and nutrient quality
  • Appropriate selection of sensing devices to be included in the GOhydro platform as a multi-modal sensor kit
  • Development of an artificial intelligence (AI) component implementing a multi-model approach that will be able to produce accurate predictions and recommendations with limited amounts of data.
  • Evaluation cycles (in Greece, Denmark and Romania) of incremental proximity to the realistic usage of the platform, i.e., as a stand-alone hydroponic unit installable in everyday settings (offices, houses) and requiring no expertise to be managed and configured.

Project’s expected benefits

Economic benefits: enhanced productivity per unit area, reduced transportation cost and carbon footprint of microgreen production, optimization of microgreen production in low-cost hydroponic units, production of fresh microgreens round the year for consumption and sale, cost-effectiveness in terms of nutrients’ profile, produced quantity and energy consumption since only energy e available within living settings will be employed.

Societal benefits: adding value to the living spaces and working environments with plants for healthy eating habits, profitable and aesthetically pleasing exploitation of vacant spaces and abandoned buildings in the city. In addition the system can be also used as a demonstrator farm in schools and kindergartens promoting sustainable solutions for the new generations, in community farms for elders and close-knit communities sharing kitchen and other living spaces, as a teaching platform to promote microgreens as an essential element of healthy dietary habits and hydroponics as a new “currency” for quality of life in urban settings, or even as a teaching platform in disaster areas and refugee camps for food production.Environmental benefits: demonstrating that hydroponics is a viable solution for the planet since it ensures reduced soil erosion and land degradation, freeing up land for vegetation regrowth and reforestation to reverse climate change, reduction of water usage through recycling of the same water, zero release of fertilizers and pesticides into the environments and all with the added benefit of producing nutrient-dense microgreens actively absorbing the atmospheric carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and releasing the life-giving oxygen within urban habitats

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