Much of the food consumed by Americans today is massed produced, lacks in nutritional quality and is grown unsustainably. According to Grace Communications Foundation, while big agricultural companies are able to produce food in high volume, they do so by sacrificing the environment, food safety and soil and water quality.
Enter in Soil IQ, a hardware probe and mobile app system which enables gardeners and small farmers to grow healthy food sustainably.
Developed by Princeton grad Jason Aramburu and industrial designer Yves Behar, Soil IQ is a solar powered probe that is planted into a plot of land and monitors the soil’s nutrient content, pH, temperature, moisture and light data. All these soil characteristics are tracked and monitored by the probe and can be sent to the owner via SMS or Twitter. Apart from simple monitoring, Soil IQ also provides recommendations regarding what plants will grow best in certain types of soil, how to optimize seed selection, how much fertilizer to use for produce and how much water is needed to keep plants healthy.
Aramburu developed the Soil IQ while working on a humanitarian project in Kenya called the Climate Kiln. The Climate Kiln is a special oven which cooks inedible plants at low oxygen levels, resulting in a charcoal like substance called biochar. This substance is then mixed into soil to improve water retention while increasing nutrient levels. Before Climate Kilns could be sold in Kenya however, Aramburu’s team had to prove that biochar actually worked and needed a quick and cheap way to analyze the soil and biochars’ impact.
Thus Soil IQ was born.
The device will retail for $49 in the U.S. and will be sold to both consumers and larger partners. A cheaper version of the Soil IQ will also be sold in Kenya, where the company is working with Orange Telecom to deploy the device to local farmers.