Hightech for the field: How gardening goes online


Arable farming is quite different: potato plants and onions sprout among 100 camera-mounted plastic tubes, which protrude from the sandy soil by just under two meters. The plastic masts connected via Bluetooth are equipped with sensors that record soil moisture, among other things. The high-tech field is to open a new gardener feeling: rich harvest without own flounder.

From the sofa, the hobby farmer can watch his potatoes, herbs or cabbage grow through the webcam – even at night with infrared. And he can control the flourishing online. Whether it is necessary to pour or fertilize, sensors transmit the most important information to the home-office gardeners who have leased a bed on the one-hectare "IPGarten" in the Altmark, halfway between Berlin and Hamburg. Real gardeners then implement every command. A 16 square meter bed costs € 33 per month, and the harvest averages around 20 boxes per season.

At the click of a mouse, tenants can decide what to plant. The range includes 50 different plant species, including three potato varieties, cabbage, carrots, onions and herbs, and flowers for the bees. The app shows a brown field, the size of which corresponds to the actual bed. With Drag & Drop, the user moves his favorite vegetables onto the virtual field. "In the selection of varieties, the app tips: What fits together, what not?", Explains IPGarten spokesman Boris Wiesmayr. "For example, if you want to place potatoes next to tomatoes, you are warned that they do not get along well with each other." Once the choice has been made, the pros plant the real field according to these specifications and later pick up the harvest as well.

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