Soil Analysing and Grow Plan Recommendation

Before I discovered Farm Bot, I had a relatively philosophical discussion concerning now a day farming and gardening and how it’s connected to world hunger etc. We came to the conclusion, that more people should be gardening, to maximize the food production, but since that’s not going to happen, we would need robots to do the gardening for us. Tadaa! Then there was Farm Bot.

The thing that really is still missing here, for proper gardening and cost reduction, in my opinion is a automatic soil analyzer. But since most people don’t know what to do with the analysis, a program suggesting a plan on how to grow plants would be useful. This program could tell you which plant is best beneath which and in which order time-wise.

The program should integrate the knowledge of the soil composition, needs of plants and how they change the soil composition and regional weather into a simple to use interface. In that way one could maximize the outcome, while reducing the need of herbicides and pesticides, ideally to null.

I know that is a pretty difficult idea to realize. Does someone know, if there is a program that already does that?
I have a bachelor in biophysics and like to work on a program like that, but I honestly don’t know where to start.

This kind of program could prove really valuable for home users and large scale farming!

This is a great idea. I don’t know how much of this is already available on because I can’t open that site (it’s blocked by my company as “drugs related” for some reason).

But really, soil condition and advice should be in there, so perhaps you could contribute to Open Farm. That way you already have a solid basis to work from and can contribute within your specific knowledge area.


I really don’t know that any of that is necessary once you develop good soil.

There are two pieces to making good soil, starting off with the basic building blocks and then not messing it up.If you want to truly understand soil, look up Dr. Elaine Ingram. From what I understand is that if you start out with a good mix of standard gardening soil which starts out with a usable pH, isn’t compacted and has viable level of good microbes and mycelium then they will provide the rest as long as you let them. The worms will come, the mycelium will trade with the plant for what they need and everything will be great.

The problems come when people kill the mycelium with tillage, or over compact the soil so it become anerobic, or through in chemical fertilizers which mess up the arrangements that the soil normally creates. Herbicides shouldn’t be necessary in one of these systems once the chosen plants take over and as long as new plants are planted to succeed plants as they get removed. This should not leave an opening for “weeds” to get a foothold. Pesticides are another thing. Bugs will arrive, but as long as you keep the system a polyculture then the predators will arrive also to eat the bad bugs. There is also less problems with bugs with healthy plants. Plants normally exude sugars to feed the soil web below ground, but unhealthy plants leave it in their leaves which signals bugs to eat them.

So the key is start with good soil and the the systems that have been solving these problems for millenia will do their jobs so you don’t have to.

Ah, thanks! I will have a look at it.

You are right! Normally one shouldn’t need to disturb natural condition and obviously don’t use herbicides or pesticides. However, if I’m correct, some plant like a more acidic soil, while others don’t. Wet or dry, nutrition rich or poor. Different plants like different soil conditions. And normally plants grow, where the soil condition is best for them.
But since we humans introduce plant for our benefit to soil, not perfectly suitable for them and since different plants attract and repel different predators and change the soil condition, I thought it might be nice to have something that tells you, how to prepare or best use your soil and match plants, so that you don’t need pesticides.

Like introducing a cress to tomatoes as aphid repellent. Or a plant that grows high and widespread in combination with one that lays on the ground and prefers shadows. Or one that acidify the soil with one that like acidic soil and so on. But I obviously don’t know enough, if that really practical.

Yes, plants may respond best to pH and moisture levels across a rather wide range. Blueberries are known for thriving best in acidic soils. And a quick Google says asparagus likes soils more basic. Certainly each respond better to a specific moisture level and there are some who like or are at least triggered by poorer soils (dandelions like compacted soils) but I doubt they are the ones you would choose to grow in one of these systems (though I hear dandelions are delicious). As for changes in pH that would have to be done during bed setup. I have also heard that ranges of pH can be set up in levels so that a range of plants could be supported as they would propagate at their layer. Certainly moisture could be modified on a steep gradient depending on root spread.

The plant mixtures you are talking about are what are called Permaculture guilds.For a good introduction see “Gaia’s Garden” by Toby Hemingway.

One of the broken parts of our present farming practices, is the removal of good things from the soil and not replacing them… Example:

For about 300 years now, we have planted seeds, added animal manure and organic compost, fertilizer and water to the soil to produce a harvest… Then we eat the produce and bury the left over compost deep enough in the ground to prevent its use by plants, (landfill)or mix it with water and put it in rivers and oceans!!!

This means that we have been stripping the minerals from the soil and putting them where they are no longer accessible in the water, & underground,…

Minerals are permanent and trace amounts in parts per million can gotten from certain fossilized areas where plants were laid down millions of years ago in a mineral Rich areas. These could be a source of addition minerals for our Farmbot garden! There is a place to get this for the garden… I’ll post it separately.

No farmer I know of adds minerals to replace what has been removed from the soil. This is a mistake! We need those minerals to be healthy…

Also, there is no way to test for a lack in the minerals… We can only go by results…eg if turkeys are dying from aneurisms it is known that there is a lack of copper in their food!

If they develop diabetes we know that there is a lack of selenium and/or chromium. I don’t know them all, but they are there and some are known.

How can our immune system function properly if it needs certain minerals and we give it none? Are we getting all the ones we need from the soil? Just look at the increase in diabetes as an example… Yes I’m another one with it!

A good question might be…can we build a Farmbot if we have no aluminum?
Or perhaps selenium?(for the electronics) or not enough copper?(for the wireing)

So part of this is good composting, the other is to suppliment the minerals(there are between approx 70 to 90 different ones we need)In trace amounts if the body needs them it uses them…if it doesn’t need them, they are discarded.

So I am wanting to help with a compostbot . I have some ideas…anybody want to calaborate?

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This guy already thought of this…if our Farmbot added a spoonful of this to the soil where the seed was to be put, it would increase the likelihood that we get all the minerals we need!
It’s called blooming minerals soil revitalized.

Is this a good place to put this idea?

Has any of us seen a way to test the mineral composition of the soil?

A good start would be a list of things that can be scanned easily, with results input to a computer.

  1. Water
  2. Litmus ? I don’t know if it can be read

That’s all I’ve heard about!

That is called companion planting… There are lists of plants known to work together… For instance the three sisters

Peas or beans

Pumpkin leaves cover and protects the corn and peas roots from drying or loosing soil
Corn gives the peas something to grow on
Peas put nitrogen into the soil, which corn and pumpkins like.
The pumpkin likes it when there is green grass clippings under the soil… The composting warms the soil which helps corn and peas too.

I understand what you are saying but it misses a key piece of the puzzle, mycelium. Mycelium converts rock into bioavailable trace elements which it then trades with plants for sugars. The reason that our food is so devoid of these elements at present is due to tillage killing the mycelium and breaking the cycle that replace the nutrients.

Yes! Especially the mycorrhizal. I saw a test where radiation was applied to a tree in a forest with active mycorrhizal fungi… It was traced to all the trees in the area. And especially to the young trees that didn’t get a lot of sunlight and needed the nutrients!

If we encouraged the mycorrhizal fungi to grow and contribute to the Farmbot garden, we can experience greater and mor healthy produce!

Here is an excerpt from the fungi guy, lol

But a fungus’s body is radically different from an animal’s. Yeasts are unicellular, while molds and macrofungi take the form of mycelia, networks of threadlike membranes, each a single cell thick, that can infest a rotting orange, infiltrate acres of woodland or fuse together to make a mushroom. Mycelia absorb nutrients from their surroundings and can rapidly change their growth patterns and other behavior in response to the environment.

“They have cellular intelligence,” Stamets says. “When you walk through the forest, they leap up in search of debris to feed on. They know you’re there.”

When fungi colonized land a billion years ago, some established a niche as Earth’s great decomposers — key to the creation of soil. Their mycelia exude enzymes and acids that turn rock into biologically accessible minerals and unravel the long-chain molecules of organic matter into digestible form. Fungal mycelia hold soil together, help it retain water and make its nutrients available to vegetation.

Species known as mycorrhizal fungi use their mycelia to envelop or penetrate plant roots, contributing nitrogen compounds and mineral salts in exchange for sugars from the host organism. (When a sapling is languishing in the shade of a larger tree, these fungi can sense the problem and send the youngster extra nourishment.) Mushroom-producing fungi feed animals; animals return the favor by spreading fungal spores.

To ward off pathogens, fungi have developed an arsenal of antibacterial and antiviral compounds — a resource that traditional peoples harnessed in the form of mushroom teas and foodstuffs. Alexander Fleming exploited them in more modern fashion when he isolated penicillin from the Penicillium rubens mold in 1929. Fungi can also parasitize and kill insects, including those troublesome to us.

For millennia, humans have exploited microfungi (molds and yeasts) to create edibles such as cheese, bread, beer and wine. But in Western culture, Stamets observes, the powers of macrofungi have been largely ignored, an attitude he refers to as “mycophobia” or “biological racism.” Mushrooms were relegated to the Campbell’s can, or outlawed when they blew too many minds. They were discounted, devalued, shunted aside.

Ok I have a question…
I’ve heard of mycorrhizal networks in the forest, but I’ve never heard of anyone growing one, other than not tilling and letting it grow

Does anyone know how you could encourage or help it to grow?
And is there a different one that grows in gardens?

I know I can recognize what The mycorrhizal in a Forrest smells like. And I’ve seen it before and can recognize a Forrest that has it growing in it…, never seen one in a garden!!!

“Does anyone know how you could encourage or help it to grow?” Start with a fungi friendly environment and the inoculate it with the fungi of choice. The most common is including wood chips in soil and then inoculating with Stropharia.

Instead of even bothering to try to explain any more of the subject, I will point to two names who know more than I ever will: Paul Stammets and Peter McCoy (Mycellium Running). The former has already been referenced here but the later is amazing also.

Oh good, I posted that earlier…[Peter McCoy (Mycellium Running). ]
I bet those guys would be interested in what we are talking about here! It could help with their research/passion about this subject! It could be a real help to our discussion!

Awesome idea. Thanks for sharing here.