interesting, will look into this coming weeks. I’m planning to share my approach as well. Working on it with the AstroPlant team and Wunderpeople (based in THe Hague). First school project is running in Gent, and second one in the pipeline with the International School of The Hague. TBUpdated
I am one of the members of the First Lego League team that built a Foam Farm for our competition. After much toil, we finally got it up and running, and then ran into some problems. On behalf of our team, I have a few questions about the Foam Farm process and also about OpenAg in general, and also have some exciting news to share.
- We are growing Arugula in our Foam Farm. All was going well until we noticed that white “spores” were growing on the Oasis horticulture cubes. Shortly thereafter, the arugula began to wither (part of the reason was it was too hot, but I’ll ask about that in a minute). What is this, and how can we stop it?
- We read on this forum that the water temperature could be a problem. Judging by touch, ours is quite warm. What is the best way to solve this?
- We are having a hard time controlling the humidity in our Foam Farm. We are shooting for 60% humidity, but it just hangs around 15% most of the time, sometimes going up when the humidifier is activated (and not empty). Do you have any advice?
- I am not so sure how much you know about the Foam Farm itself, but we have been wondering about the bottle that is mounted on the outside. We assume it is for adding more liquid into the Foam Farm but have been unsure what we can put inside it - water with pH solution and nutrient “powder,” or something else?
- Should we line the inside of the Farm with Mylar to make the Farm more reflective?
And now, for the good news: thanks in part to our work with the Foam Farm, our team (Sophisticated A.I.) has progressed to the First Lego League World Festival in Detroit! We are one of 3/500 teams in our State that progressed to the competition, and we all hope we will have something growing to show to the judges by the competition (April 20).
Any reply and help you are able to give is very appreciated - thank you for your support so far! We would like to give a few more updates as we progress further through our season.
On behalf of Team 6347, Sophisticated A.I.,
Jake (8th grade)
It will be easier for people to give you specific advice if you post pictures and measurements. For a good example, see this thread: Eliminating Clogging in HPA, and "stream misters"?
What are your typical daily high & low temperature and humidity measurements in the room? If you don’t have a way to measure that already, you could try one of these. If the room temperature spends much time at or above the mid-70’s (Fahrenheit), you’re probably going to have a hard time growing greens that need cool weather. That’s assuming that the temperature in your foam farm is also below the mid-70’s–perhaps not a safe assumption.
Is your foam farm in a building with drafts or poorly controlled heating? Your humidity shouldn’t be so low–15% is well into the territory of nosebleeds, cracked skin, and getting a static shock whenever you touch metal. About 30-50% is comfortable for people. Mold problems are common with high humidity over 60%. You’re describing 15% humidity and mold. That’s surprising. One possible explanation is that your sensor could be broken. Or, maybe it’s more to do with high water temperature.
I wouldn’t worry about attempting to maintain humidity in the the foam farm at a different level than the ambient humidity in the room. Your foam farm is basically an insulated box with a heater in it. Your biggest problem is likely to be removing heat from the lights. You will either need a refrigeration unit (expensive. not recommended) or a lot of air exchange with the room (cheap). Assuming you use an air exchange fan for cooling, any humidity you add will just get sucked out by your fan.
What is your water temperature? If you don’t have a thermometer, maybe you could try one of these.
For general information on hydroponic greens, you could read some of the resources mentioned here: Technical books, publications, and links on hydroponics & CEA. The Cornell lettuce handbook might be a good starting point.
Assuming heat is your main problem, here are a couple articles I found with suggestions about hydroponics in warm weather:
https://blog.brightagrotech.com/aquaponics-for-hot-climates-building-a-heat-tolerant-system/ (note the suggestion about putting the water tank in the ground. Digging a hole probably isn’t an option, but if you’ve got the foam farm up on a table, maybe you could move it so the water tank is sitting directly on the floor. You could use thermometers to look for the coldest spot on the floor. If you know anybody with a thermal imager, that would work great for finding cold spots, and your team would probably love it. This post has some thermal imager pictures: Building aeroponic system and full automation)
Two days ago, I introduce the use case of the IoT + Agriculture + OpenSource the student use the PFC in Catholic Univerisity of South Korea. When I eat the lettuce on the plate in the PFC, a number of students surprised. They answer my survey about the PFC project, they have a huge interest relate to the problem of the future! About 2 hours is too short to explain more deep dive into the PFC’s technical architecture.
But It is awesome because I can show up my PFC to students and I can eat it with no hesitates.
On the screen, I display the PFC’s sensor data dashboard (Use the ElasticSearch Kibana Dashboard). After the class I take the survey report from the 140 students, In near future, I will summarize it and share with you.
We’re thrilled to hear the class went well. We’d love to see the survey and its findings. When you’re ready to summarize it, you can upload it to our Wiki here. Can you please let us know what PFC you built through our survey?
Amazing news you and your team will be heading to the competition in April. Regarding all your questions, please read the update on the status of PFC design and software developments here. Please look to our stellar community members for support on previous PFC versions. Great suggestions from @wsnook
I am writing from Bristol, UK, where I am currently working with Grow Bristol, a small hydroponic farm in this wonderful city, as their education officer, designing and delivering a program to local schools, focusing on sustainable food systems - www.growbristol.co.uk. I have recently been awarded a very generous bursary by the Bristol Good Food Awards for my professional development in this area, to work with children and adults across the city, educating and inspiring people to engage with food justice and sustainable agriculture. Part of this bursary will be spent on a trip to New York and Massachusetts to visit and learn from some the incredible projects in your states, of which there are so many!
I am very interested by the Food Computers and how they are being used in schools. I would absolutely love to make a visit to a school that is using one and learn a little about them and the STEM learning that goes alongside. I am hoping to be over in July. I know schools are out then but perhaps there is still a group looking after the plants? It would be wonderful to be able to take some expertise back to England with me to better inspire the people of Bristol. I wonder if anyone would be happy to have me visit?
I’m done your survey about building the PFC. In addition, last class using the PFC Project in the university, I correct 120 survey paper from the student who attends the class.
I’m writing to share this result of the survey summary URL( Google Forms).
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1WC03r-fWoz7Eol3zhmd0smsDDA9KCk5aenO-Cdh3Qko/edit#responses ( It was written in the Korean language, you can use the google translate program! )
Our team would give the proposal which has an education program using the PFC.
Hi all! I am an educator working at a non profit urban farm in Moab, Utah. I am interested in researching and building a food computer to use as an educational tool with the kids, but because we are a non profit with a tight budget, I am unsure if we will be able to fund the project. Does anyone have any recommendations for grants to apply for that could be used towards this project? Thanks!
How much are you looking for? Hopefully I can help further:
We are currently working on solutions to increase accessibility to Food Computers by making them easier and cheaper to build. We’ll be making an announcement soon with more details. Please stay tuned!
My students have put together the Foam Farm – need info on how to program
the arduino, etc. as I have not found that info yet. Any help would be
greatly appreciated! I am a fish biologist, not a programmer!
Hi! We are getting to the controls part - I haven’t found any instructions on how to code the arduino to control the temp/humidity. Any FAQ’s out there for this?
Hi Wilbur -
You can find the Arduino sketch code in the OpenAg GitHub repository: https://github.com/OpenAgInitiative/FoamFarmActivity/tree/master/src
I can’t help but be curious about your long-term goals for Food Computers and whether you’re planning to integrate aquaculture. @pspeth is working with several schools in St. Louis who are doing side by side comparisons of Aquaponic vs Hydroponic (non-organic nutrients) systems. You might be interested in some of these other conversations on the forums as well pertaining to aquaponics. I volunteer at several aquaponic farms where we have installed sensors to monitor the reservoirs using the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Food Computer software.
Thanks for helping out @codekaizen, have you gotten that software to function on your Foam Farm? I ask because I know @melanieshimano has had some trouble in the past and I’m not sure if @openag/@OpenAgFoundation still supports/updates the Foam Farm software. I myself personally have not built a Foam Farm or got the software to function so I can’t be of much help.
Not started with the code yet, but I read through it and it looks reasonable. Part of the issue appears to be that there are missing components in the build - the Bill of Materials didn’t list the LCD screen, but it’s in the Activity Guide and in the code. It could be that it was removed because it was hard to find (I think there was also a CO2 sensor at one point) but the code still expects it to be there. I’ll try wiring up enough of the system to test the code out and report back.
Last yesterday(11.03), My team assemble PFC with citizen community in InnovationFabLab(Seoul Innovation Park).
These people has a various background(Arduino Teacher, Social activist, Students, Engineer, Farmer - ), All of them enthusiasm PFC, Open Agriculture!
During 3 hours they can assemble PFC and control PFC using their Arduino IDE tools!
After 30 days, we will croppings Lettuces, Young Radish, Basil!
In addition to, Our program joined the “Fab City” project with Seolul. We are optimistic to introduction PFC to others.
Kgwang Hee Han.
@house - this is amazing! We love to see Food Computers being used in education. What were the ages and tech literacy levels of the participants?
We just posted the build documentation for the v3.0 PFC and would be interested in getting your feedback!
Please keep us posted as your project continues!