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Enabling the development of synergistic and scalable mixed communities of communicating artefacts and plants

The PLANTS project is developing a novel technology that will enable plants to control their own environment. PLANTS is an interdisciplinary project incorporating plant science, microelectronics, software design and integration and science communication.

PLANTS is a three-year research project devising a technology that automatically responds to a plant’s needs.

Plants sense and respond to the environment around them. A plant’s early response to a stressful situation, such as drought, nutrient deficiency, undesirable light conditions, insect or disease attack can be very subtle; for example, a slight temperature change or reduced chlorophyll content.

The PLANTS project uses sensors to detect plant signals, and microelectronic modules to collect and transmit information. Bespoke computer software interprets the data from the sensors and activates the desired adjustment to the plant’s environment. In this way the plant’s signals trigger the appropriate treatment.

PLANTS aims to optimise the efficiency and productivity of plant growth. An array of sensors positioned around the crop detects subtle plant signals and uses these as the basis for precision applications of water, pesticides or fertilisers. The three-way communication between plants, people and objects will be achieved by a miniaturised wireless system which will be robust and user-friendly. By delivering resources when and where they are needed, the PLANTS system seeks to minimise their wastage and the environmental and human health damage their over-use may cause.

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