Author Topic: Off the wall idea... plant cyborgs.  (Read 1419 times)

Offline I.L.W.

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Off the wall idea... plant cyborgs.
« on: June 20, 2016, 01:29:20 PM »
I've been looking into inverted bark grafting: That is removing a strip of bark around the trunk of a tree, and turning it upside down, then grafting it back into place to alter nutrient flow and increase fruit production.

It dawned on me that it would be rather easy to graft a wick-like material under the bark of a tree and use it much like a hospital IV unit to deliver very specific nutrients in solution to a plant, completely bypassing the root system. Delivery of nutrients could then be automated via sensors to maximize their effectiveness. Hormones that are normally released during dormancy to favor root growth might be used during the active growth period. A reduction in the amount of fertilizer needed could be obtained by putting the right amount of phosphorous directly into the tree, rather than into the soil.

It's not a new idea, (see here) there are many manual techniques to accomplish this, usually used in propagation labs. But could a self-contained "smart" device be clamped around a trunk or branch and programed to take different actions depending on feedback from sensors around, or even in a plant? Perhaps hormones and some nutrients (like nitrogen) be manufactured in the device itself, utilizing algae, bacteria and fungi strains?

Seems like this is a largely unexplored area of plant research, using mostly antiquated technology which has high potential for automation, data collection, and intelligently engineered reaction to that data.

Another intresting idea along these lines: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/10/e1501136

There's also been preliminary work in the area of graphene nano-sensors for detection of various plant pathogens.

The automation of irrigation, conventional nutrient delivery, and light manipulation in a programmable environment is maturing already, alongside hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics etc. There's a lot of innovation in those areas. See: https://www.ted.com/talks/caleb_harper_this_computer_will_grow_your_food_in_the_future?language=en

Then of course you have ag-drones, with things like the EcoBee on the lower end for consumers and small farms.

Just wondering if anyone has good links regarding the marriage of information technology and small-scale agriculture.  Seems like technology is advancing very quickly into the realm of small-scale agriculture and homesteading. It's an interesting thing to keep an eye on.