In Houston, nearly half a million people reside in food deserts. These are areas where accessing healthy foods is a challenge, which can lead to serious health implications. Despite Houston being a massive metropolis, many areas, especially low-income neighborhoods, lack proximity to grocery stores and fresh food farms, or have inefficient farming practices. A pressing issue in food farming is the overuse of fresh water. While the Earth is 70 percent water, only a minuscule amount is fit for human use. Astonishingly, 70 percent of this precious resource is used for irrigation, and half of that is wasted due to inefficient methods, escalating water bills. With water prices surging and droughts on the rise, we must prioritize water conservation.
During my visits to community farms in Houston and beyond, I noticed a gap in irrigation techniques. Each time, a nagging question persisted: could there be a way to ascertain whether the crops needed watering at any specific moment? That's when I started my experiment at home. My goal was clear: develop a system to promote efficient water usage. I believe that such a creation could be pivotal in driving conservation, reducing costs, and inspiring the inception of more community gardens.
Leveraging my engineering and programming skills, I developed the SmartSprout irrigation system. It's a cutting-edge innovative approach that integrates smart sensors and artificial intelligence to assess soil moisture, ensuring crops get water only when they need it. Thanks to a grant from the City of Southside, I was thrilled to be able to test SmartSprout in the Southside Community Garden. Since its inception in December 2022, the results have been promising and surpassed expectations. The system managed to save approximately 50 percent of water, all while preserving the perfect soil moisture level crucial for crops. The system adjusts to various crop types and weather patterns automatically. My vision is for SmartSprout to transform irrigation in community gardens across Houston.
I hope to revolutionize farming with these smart irrigation techniques. By ensuring maximum crop yields with minimal water usage and costs, these techniques can make a lasting positive impact on our community and environment.
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