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Latest Computer Technology Helps Researchers Listen to Plants

Latest Computer Technology Helps Researchers Listen to Plants
Horticulture Week (12/24/09) Sidders, Jack

The use of speckled computing to compile data on poinsettias at a plant nursery in the United Kingdom marks the first time the technology has been used in horticulture.  Developed by researchers at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and the University of Edinburgh, the sensors were installed at Pentland Plant Nursery in July and have been used to provide readings every minute to help ensure that the plants remain in perfect condition.  “We can check the temperature, light levels, moisture, and nutrients around the plant along with the compost to make sure that everything is perfect for the plant to grow,” says SAC plant pathologist Simon Oxley.  At the plant nursery, sensors are used to wirelessly deliver information to the laboratory.  Moreover, linking the sensor specks with automatic glasshouse and environment systems could lead to light and energy savings.  “Specks are finding new applications in a variety of other areas such as monitoring the natural environment and optimizing energy usage in buildings,” says DK Aryind, director of the speckled computing consortium at Edinburgh.  Speckled computing is used in the health care industry and also has potential applications in the retail sector.


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