The Green, Green Grass of Home. IoT and Lawn Care

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 5:00:00 AM Carmi Brandis  
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The lawn care market—which includes everything from private residences to condo/apartment complexes and golf courses—has gone through significant changes over the years. Concerns over the use of toxic pesticides/fertilizers, water consumption, and the need to have green grass have shifted the industry from its ‘green at all costs’ roots. Even the image-conscious Playboy Mansion let all its lawns go brown during one severe California drought, and the Playboy organization clearly had the resources to pay for any amount of water. Plus, millennials (who ultimately will represent the largest spending group) simply aren’t interested in ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ when it comes to lawn care.

Despite all these upheavals, lawn care represents a multi-billion industry that isn’t going away, and one that is perfectly suited to IoT-based solutions. IoT technology can mitigate, if not remedy, many of the issues plaguing the sector.

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Keeping fit and trim

Cutting grass becomes an art form of sorts with IoT applications. Using a smart phone, users can customize mowing times via very specific criteria, such as grass type, desired look, or even dormant periods (mandated ‘drought days’). Smart sensors and cameras constantly measure grass height (and the shape of other plants) and then send notifications when a preset level is reached. This prevents over/under cutting (grass damage) and, ultimately, can save energy as well as reduce pollution—gas mowers only are employed when needed versus a weekly/monthly routine. The system also can anticipate events by networking with weather reports and then generating the appropriate alerts (rain coming tomorrow, cut today). If there is a robot mower involved, the application can coordinate mowing procedures to optimize its use, such as operating only when there is no one around.  

Water, water everywhere? 

Recent severe droughts, especially in California, have forced many homeowners, governments, and lawn care companies to rethink water use. IoT applications can maximize every drop of water used by determining when and how often to water based on what the soil/grass requires, not a set schedule. Sensors can determine if a sprinkler head is broken or ‘watering the sidewalk’, and take appropriate action. Cameras can direct the system to water certain areas (brown patches) and not others, plus they can allocate water amounts based on lawn section or even plant (if a drought-resistant lawn). If manual watering is preferred, the system can precisely guide the person spraying and tell how much water is required in each area. As with mowing, the application can sync with weather reports and other sensor data to determine prime watering times, or to shut off the system if there is an unanticipated rain shower.

What’s eating you?

IoT-enabled devices are the ideal weapon against pests and invasive plant species, and can succeed in such battles in an environmental and humane way. Invasive plant species and/or dying grass can be detected early on, mitigating any damage. Specific sprinklers can spray all-natural weed killers (such as a mixture of vinegar and dish soap) into targeted areas without affecting the surrounding areas. If manual spot spraying or uprooting is required, the system can designate which areas to focus on. Notifications can be sent to third-party lawn care companies so they, in turn, can tell their workers the best approach to eliminating the infestation.

For animal invaders, a combination of sensors and cameras can detect animal type and exact location/browsing pattern, as well as distinguish a pest from a household cat or dog. If a pest lives underground, motion sensors can pinpoint location(s) and exact movement. Once the threat is identified, the system can take appropriate action, such as playing predator sounds, releasing distasteful scents, or even ‘thumping’ the ground to make burrows inhospitable. The same methods can be used to defend against ‘friendly’ intruders, such as a neighbor’s cat using your yard as a litter box.

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When toxic solutions must be employed, whether by choice or necessity, IoT technology can optimize their use and dramatically reduce any ecological damage. The smart sensors and cameras can pinpoint the problem area to ensure only the amount of pesticide needed is applied. Likewise, the system can integrate information about the specific product employed, and make recommendations for use based on its toxicity or a pest’s resistance/susceptibility to it. For example, invasive species, such as giant ragweed, variations of pigweed, and ryegrass, are resistant to the commonly used glyphosate herbicide. Additionally, after application, the system can determine when it is safe for pets and humans to use the lawn again, eliminating allergic reactions and possible death.

All the data collected can be archived for analysis by lawn experts for use in determining how to solve a given problem. This results in faster resolutions, a healthier ecosystem, and a lawn to be proud of day in and day out.

Contact us today at Aeris to learn more about IoT and lawn care.

Topics: IoT, water conservation, lawn care, smart lawns, water sensors