Plant Notes (once know as Plant Pi) recently entered the 2014 PA consulting Raspberry Pi Competition, winning £1000 for achieving 1st place against secondary schools from across the United Kingdom. Please view the video below to see more on the event!

What is Plant Notes?

Plant Notes is a system allowing anyone looking for a simple way to automate their plants environments from anywhere around the world via the internet. The system is fully scalable – from just a few plants being monitored and their environments adjusted to many thousands across a large area of land.

But how does it work?

Plant Notes is a network of devices that are placed around the plants. Some devices sense the environment including:

  • Soil moisture
  • Rainfall percentage
  • Humidity
  • Temperature
  • Light intensity

Other devices control the environment, this could include:

  • Intensity of light
  • Heat applied
  • Regulation of water
  • Variation of light wavelength

All these small devices connect via radio transmission to the Raspberry Pi (our central hub). The Raspberry Pi sets up a database and web server allowing the user to view and control the plants environment from anywhere around the world.

The idea

Our idea is to help get everyone involved in gardening. People find it hard to look after plants. Having to know when to water them, how much, where to put them – it’s all a bit overwhelming for the newbie like myself!

So what our project allows you to do is to monitor your plant and its environment from anywhere around the world, you just need to connected to the internet. You could be in a cafe, or sitting at your desk at work and you would have a live update of how your plants are doing and if say it needed a little watering well you could just press a button and hey presto!

Our project is not just for home use, it’s huge scalability would allow it to be simply and cheaply added onto a current larger scale farming system. Something we would love to be a part of – Contact Us if you’re interested.


Why not just use one micro controller system or just one a Raspberry Pi?

With just one micro controller board or just one Raspberry Pi the user is limited to a small area to automate, it’s a closed system. What we hope to achieve is a fully integrated system covering a large area all connected to one central server, which the user connects to.

Why use the RF24 Transceiver?

The reason we chose the RF24 (NRF24L01) is because it allows for multiple channels for many nodes to send data. The fact it’s a transceiver also means that we can send data to the Arduino too! For example, to allow a pump to be turned on or off as to water the plant. The transceiver also, and most importantly allows for a long range between the plant side and the Raspberry Pi side that of up to 1 mile! This means that the pi can safely be stored at home whilst all of your nodes cover every spot of your garden !!

The distance of course could be scaled, using longer range transceivers for larger areas.

What Next?

We hope to continue to develop the project to help advance its capability and simplicity. Starting with the webpage we would like to create a simple interpretation of the data so that the user can easily see the overall status of multiple plants through various illustrations. Also we wish to allow users to interact simply to change their plants environment with the use of sliders/buttons etc.

 Other Ideas (all currently in development):

  • Add a the feature to be automatically controlled with a database setup including a list of plant species and their optimum temperature, humidity etc. for plant growth. So say the soil moisture fell below a certain level, that declared by the database the plant would be watered automatically.
  • We would like to develop each board as a Printed Circuit Board – something we’re doing right now, check out out Gallery and Blog to keep posted.

There much more we would like to change and hope you understand we are not yet finished!