Danielle Ahrens

Cenozoa: an IoT Farm Platform

Posted: February 25th, 2021

*Record scratch* *freeze frame* yup, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up self-hosting my own custom built web application platform with fully integrated, specially made IoT devices.

Well, it all started with a desire to increase my self-sufficency and lower my environmental impact by starting a sustainable mini-farm. As I studied about various farming techniques, I realized something: farming is a lot of work. It takes daily monitoring to keep a farm running smoothly and efficiently:

Great news! You've managed to keep your plants alive long enough to harvest!

My engineering mind immediately began to wonder: how many of these tasks could be automated? There are, of course, many off-the-shelf solutions that could help: automated irrigation systems, IoT temperature monitors, even a modified internet connected garage door opener could possibly be used on a chicken coop. But these off-the-shelf solutions:

  1. Are so expensive!
  2. Wouldn't have a single unified platform to manage everything
  3. Have privacy concerns: where exactly is all this data going? Is it secure? How do I know this information isn't going to be sold to some internet ads company?
  4. Some systems just don't exist: where could I find a system that will open and close a cold frame depending on the temperature and/or the amount of snow covering the window?

As I considered this, I realized that I could just build my own high-tech, fully integrated system exactly to my needs. And so I did. From the hand assembled hardware and firmware, to the self-hosted web server, database and user interface, the Cenozoa IoT Farm Platform is soup to nuts custom built for me, by me.

Starting with a simple temperature and humidity monitoring and alerting system, this platform will grow to include custom built irrigation systems for garden beds, a temperature and moisture monitoring system for compost piles, automated temperature and light level controls for winter growing in cold frames and automated doors and heating of a chicken coop. The status of all these sensors can all be easily viewed and adjusted through one portal.

Curious about how it all works? Take a deeper dive:

Check back in the future for more details about each of the components of this system!