Using Algorithmic Modeling to "Print" Smarter Fields
Combination planting-where certain crops are planted together to stave off pests or enhance taste-is as old as
Groß's idea actually stems from a fairly recent development in European farming culture:
But just like every other crop, these plants are still subject to age-old problems, like vermin-which generally means farmers have to use pesticides. That's where Groß comes in. His idea is to use the thousand-year-old concept of combination planting to reduce the need for pesticides.
Combination planting is old, but the way Groß applies it is new. Using an algorithm written in the visual scription program Processing , he's developed a way to generate complex planting maps that play to the unique complexities of each plot of land (the crops are planted using a GPS system, which is actually a fairly common approach among modern farmers).
As part of his interaction design studies at the RCA, in London, Groß tested his script on an irregular, 28-acre plot of land in southern Germany. Using his algorithm, he created a Voronoi diagram-style map of oats, destined for biogas production, interwoven with a delicate thread of eleven wildflowers and herbs, known to repel vermin and pests. He supplied the map to his farmer collaborator in May, and the crops are due to be harvested for biogas this month. "These additional areas establish, or improve, the connectivity for fauna and flora between habitats," he writes . "This increased diversity also eases typical problems of monocultures."
Does this mean
But it's not out of the question. After all, agricultural scientists are exploring how
GPS-controlled shock collars for livestock
could revolutionize crop rotation and eradicate fences altogether. Could algorithmically-planned fields be far behind? It's a brave new farm-but let's stay away from