Names: Goh Qian Zhe, Tan Shi Jie    

Class: S2-04       

Group Reference: A / B / C / D / E / F / G / H  

1.    Indicate the type of research that you are adopting:

[    ] Test a hypothesis: Hypothesis-driven research
e.g. Investigation of the anti-bacteria effect of chrysanthemum

[    ] Measure a value: Experimental research (I)
e.g. Determination of the mass of Jupiter using planetary photography

[    ] Measure a function or relationship: Experimental research (II)
e.g. Investigation of the effect of temperature on the growth of crystals

[    ] Construct a model: Theoretical sciences and applied mathematics
e.g. Modeling of the cooling curve of naphthalene 

[    ] Observational and exploratory research
e.g. Investigation of the soil quality in School of Science and Technology, Singapore  

[ X ] Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research
e.g. Development of a SMART and GREEN energy system for households  

2.    Write a research proposal of your interested topic in the following format:

Title: A Development of a Automatic Plant Watering System

A.    Question or Problem being addressed
The problem being addressed in this project is that plants wilt and die after a few days or a week of not watering the plant, where in some cases, people could not tend for the plant due to issues like holidays or business trips, where in these cases, the plants would not be tended for a week or even more, which causes the plants to wilt and die after the plant loses all its water. This, for this, people have fretted over the survival of plants, and resulted people either not going for their holiday or business trips due to the plant, or not having a plant, as to free up their time in taking care of the plant. This is why we are actually developing this automatic plant watering system, to both let the people who own plants which wilt easily due to lack of water to go abroad as long as they want, while having the plant being in tip top condition.

B.    Goals / Expected Outcomes / Hypotheses

The goal of this project is to successfully complete design and construction of the automatic plant watering system. The device should work appropriately in our desired conditions and water the plants included in the project. The expected outcome is that the plant is thereby alive with the automatic plant watering system fully operational. We could expect the potted plant to grow well and show no signs of wilting. We would also hope the sensor of the system to successfully determine whether the plant needs watering, before commanding the Arduino system to release an appropriate amount of water to the plants, which in turn is how the watering system works, which also prevents the plant’s death.

Goal of the development: To develop an system for automatic plant watering in an urban setting.

Specified Requirements:
-       Project Must be done in urban areas
-       There might be a lack of sunlight
-       Space Saving
-       Cost Saving
-       Time saving
-       Plant saving
-       Simplified and easy to use
-       Must be fully automatic
-       Must build a new humidity sensor
-       Must be creative, NOT mainstream

Creating alternative solutions
-       Automatic Plant Watering system from pipe
-       Automatic Plant Watering system from tank
-       Automatic Plant Watering system from manual watering.

Why water Plants?
With trees and shrubs you planted this spring (or even last fall), they need a minimum of 10 gallons of water a week, allowed to soak in slowly. It’s better if they have two 10 gallon buckets full a week, soaked in slowly. Don’t make the mistake of soaking them every day, too much water is almost as bad as not enough; the roots will sit there in the wet and not grow at all. If you paid out good money for the tree you planted back in the spring, then weekly watering to keep it alive is a good investment in a shade tree of the future.

With lawns, 3 waterings a week, about 2 hours each time, should keep the grass green. However some varieties of grass will go dormant in dry weather. Bermuda grass, for example, will survive the heat and drought and when it starts raining again, will commence growing again. Bluegrass or similar turf grass lawns, by contrast, need a constant supply of moisture, so it’s best to water those every other day.

Roses and tomatoes both do best if watered in early morning. If you are one of those folks who likes to take the garden hose and spray down your roses or tomatoes late in the afternoon, wetting down the plants and shooting a bit at the roots, then you are doing more harm than good. Both roses and tomato plants are prone to fungal problems, and fungus spores love a hot, wet environment. That method of watering insures you will have blackspot and mildew on your roses because the leaves stay wet overnight. It insures your tomatoes will develop wilt faster, and spread quicker, as well. A much safer and more efficient method is to use a soaker hose in your row of tomatoes and soak them for about an hour, twice each week. Or, use the garden hose without a nozzle, and soak around each tomato plant (or rose bush) for 2 minutes, move on to the next one then come back and do the first one again. Aim only at the root area, don’t soak the leaves. If you must use an overhead sprinkler, use it in the early morning so that the air and sunlight evaporates the moisture from the leaves quickly.

For herbs of most any kind, along with beans and carrots, they are less picky about how they receive water. Overhead sprinklers are fine, soaker hoses work well, too. But with peppers and eggplant, they also do best if watered early in the morning rather than late in the evening. Peppers, eggplants and tomatoes are all distant cousins and while peppers and eggplants don’t suffer from as many fungal problems as tomatoes, keeping their foliage dry when you water the roots is best. (Long, 2011)

Without water, plants wilt and die. But too much water can be as bad for plants as not enough. If land plants are submerged in water for too long, even if just their roots are submerged, they may rot or drown from lack of oxygen.
Balancing plants' water needs is like having a healthful diet. Everything should be consumed in moderation. Provide your plants with enough water for good health, but don't flood them with it. (Burrell, 2013)

The best time to water plants is usually in the early morning, both to maximize the efficiency of water used and to promote healthy flora.

Mornings tend to be cool and without strong winds, so the amount of water lost to evaporation is much less than during the middle of the day. Yes, evenings are typically similar, but if plants stay damp overnight they are more likely to be damaged by fungal and bacterial diseases. Ideally, use a drip or soak system instead of a regular sprinkler, which wastes a lot of water and drenches the leaves, which are prone to damage as well as disease.

Most experts recommend substantial, infrequent watering for established plants, typically a total of about one inch of water per week (including rain). One or two applications a week encourages deeper rooting, which promotes stronger plants. To avoid shocking tender greenery, try to use water at or near air temperature. (Howard, 2013)

Background Research:
For this project, we did a background research on the project that we were going to do, so basically, below, we found out the following:

Type 1: Arduino Based “Garduino Geek Gardening”

Introductory by Author Luke Iseman:

I wanted to start gardening, but I knew I wouldn’t keep up the regular schedule of watering the plants and making sure they got enough light. So I recruited a microprocessor and a suite of sensors to help with these tasks. An Arduino microcontroller runs my indoor garden, watering the plants only when they’re thirsty, turning on supplemental lights based on how much natural sunlight is received, and alerting me if the temperature drops below a plant-healthy level. For sensors, the Garduino uses an inexpensive photocell (light), thermistor (temperature), and a pair of galvanized nails (moisture).
Total cost, including the Arduino, was about $150. (Iseman, 2013)
The first diagram shows the soil probe, which knew the moisture of the plant by determining the resistance of the soil. The more resistance, it means that the plant most probably has less water and needs to be watered soon. This was determined by a circuit, which is has a resistor, named R1, for the analog output to measure the resistance of the soil in between the two nails. This can be done by just simply attaching wires to a breadboard, along with a 10 ohm resistor, to the circuit to actually detect the water level.

The person, then codes the Arduino device to actually monitor the resistance until a point of time where the resistance between the two nails are too high, before the Arduino device assigns the pump to pump water into the plants.

Figures : Thought Chain
The figures below are our thought process on this development of this project, which we decided to show it out. These are not too much of modification, but it shows the thoguth process we went through for this project proposal.

Figure 1.1
This picture shows the water tubes being connected from the water storage area to the cup and the potted plant, with the same volume outputted to both the cup and the potted plant at the same time

The following pictures are from a prototype that we made for the automatic plant watering system. These pictures are also part of the few prototypes that would be shown in the later stages of this proposal. These structures are constructed using Sketchup from Trimble, a simple application for making 3-Dimensional figures. These following pictures were taken by FRAPS. The concept of this first prototype is actually to water the plant at a stipulated time, like water a plant once after 48 hours. Firstly, the water is transmitted form the water storage area through the plastic tubes, and the amount of water needed for the plant is doubled and split up for the water to go to both the plant and the empty cup. This is to see how much water the potted plant receives.

Figure 1.2
In this figure, this illustrates the water tube on top of the plant, where the water would flow to, into the plant.

Figure 1.3
This figure shows the plastic tube being lead to the cup. The water that would fall into the cup would be the same as the water that fell into the potted plant.

Prototype 2
This was a prototype we thought of, after we thought that prototype 1 was not that good. This was because that the pipes were too wide, so the water would easily splash out of the plant and cup. The pipes were also linked together, proving it impossible for the water to flow to the cup, which would result in the plant getting almost all the water, which would prove that that development is not good, and fail in development of the automatic plant watering system.

Figure 2.1

This picture depicts the overall structure of the improved prototype. Now, the structure of the watering system is such that he watering tubes are not arranged in series. Instead they are arranged parallel, where there could be equal distribution of water into both the cup and the potted plant. But there are still no sensors, which we would implement, in our final prototype.

Figure 2.2

This picture illustrates a very thin tube reaching into the cup. This is an improvement from the previous prototype as the diameter of the tube has been decreased to a standard where the possibility of any water leaking is almost ZERO. This implementation has be improvised in order to make this development as accurate as possible.

Figure 2.3

In this figure, the structure above the Arduino board (NOT DRAWN TO SCALE) is the water storage compartment. It is halved into two parts, one for the cup, one for the potted plant. At each time of like 48 hours, the same volume of water would then be released into the cup and the plant. But this is lacking a sensor to track the volume of water left in the water storage system, which will be covered in the next and final prototype. 

Final Selection

We chose this because this refined model has the added sensors and has a control system to release exactly the right amount of water by the Arduino system. There would be a series of sensors to detect the level of water in the cup, the water storage area and the potted plant.

Diagram of final prototype
Figure 3.1

Plants need large quantities of water for growth.  The most important factor driving water movement in plants is a process known as transpiration.  Transpiration is the loss of water from plants in the form of vapor (evaporation).  Plants utilize most of the water absorbed from the soil for transpiration (95%), but a small portion of the water absorbed is used during photosynthesis for producing the carbohydrates necessary for plant growth (5%).  The rate of transpiration is dependent on water availability within the plant (and soil) and on sufficient energy to vaporize water.  Most energy supporting transpiration is derived directly from the sun (solar radiation).  Sunny, hot weather increases the rate of transpiration and thus the risk for wilting if adequate water is not available.

Water typically makes up 80 – 95% of the mass of growing plant tissues. Mature woody plant tissue water content ranges from 45 – 50% while herbaceous plant water content ranges from 70 – 95%.  Plants have cell walls that allow the build up of turgor pressure within each cell.  Turgor pressure contributes to rigidity and mechanical stability of non-woody plant tissue and is essential for many physiological processes including cell enlargement (plant growth), gas exchange in the leaves, transport of water and sugars, and many other processes.

Plants have adapted over time to tolerate extremes in water availability.  Plant water availability is influenced by soil moisture.  The texture and structure of soils and container substrates influence their relative capacities to retain water.  Plant water uptake does not always keep up with transpirational water loss rates, even if soil moisture is adequate.  Temporary midday wilting is common during hot, sunny afternoons, but plants can rehydrate over night when lower temperatures result in decreased transpirational water losses.  If the soil/substrate dries without addition of water from precipitation or irrigation, permanent wilting may occur, resulting in plant death.  It is critical to manage the water status of nursery crops and to irrigate based on soil moisture and plant needs.

Growth is dramatically affected by the timing and amount of water applied during production.  Certain stages of plant growth are more sensitive to water stress than others.  Plant vigor and overall resistance to stress from insects and/or disease are influenced by water status.  Water management is the most important cultural practice of nursery growers whether growing field or container crops.  Therefore, optimum growth and quality of nursery plants can only be achieved if water is properly managed.  In the nursery industry the goal is not simply plant survival but ultimately the production of quality plants in the shortest amount of time, using minimal production space, with least impact on the environment, and with the most efficient and effective use of other resources so that bottom line costs are reduced. (Clemenson University, 2013)
Oh poor, poor potted plant. Some days we drown you, on others your soil is riddled with cracks like the Sahara Desert...until that sad day when life departs your roots and your crispy leaves fall on the windowsill.
Whatever excuse you have -- traveling, forgetful, or just a thumb the shade of noir, don't despair. It's a brand new day in the wild new frontier of container gardening, and self-watering planters are a no-brainer for plant serial killers. (Beautyman, 2012)

This is the final prototype where in this prototype is the final and the best prototype we ave made, but actually not built from scratch, but is an improvement from the previous version of the automatic plant watering system. It has the new imputed sensor system to tell the wetness of the soil, a sensor for the cup for the volume of the water output.

Figure 3.2

This figure is about the Arduino and the water storage area. The water storage area, now improved, comes with a sensor at each compartment to extract the remaining volume of water in that particular tank. There are two small support stands to support the water storage area. There is another structure connected to the Arduino board to transmit information. The board, would send data to a storage device, like a small laptop, to record down information for the user to see when was the plant watered. We also included a readily modified water storage area to make the user expand or decrease the size of the water storage area.

Figure 3.3
This figure shows the sensor, which is currently with the potted plant. The sensor, which is wirelessly connected, sends information to the Arduino board and displays and logs the water rate into the log device. If the log device detects a LOW in the water level, the device would send a warning to the Arduino board, before watering the plant.

Extra Equipment – Moisture sensor for the plant (Diagram)

Equipment list: 
1)    1 X Arduino
2)    Plastic Tubes (5M)
3)    1X Soil Humidity Sensor
4)    5M Wires
5)    1X Electrical Power
6)    1L Water
7)    2X Storage container for water
8)    4X Supports for structure
9)    1X Potted plant
10) 1X Small Speaker
11) 1X Cup
12) 1X LCD Display

Procedures: Detail all procedures and experimental design to be used for data collection
This is for the final prototype of this automatic plant watering system
Firstly, the automatic plant watering system would be created, and that the system would be constructed using a few items namely the Arduino board, the container, the tubes, the supports, the plants and the display. After getting the materials required, we would actually code the required codes to get the humidity level of the plant, the volume of water left in the storage container and the volume of water output. We would route plastic tubes from the water storage area into the two output areas – the plant and the cup. The Arduino system would then be hooked on to the power supply, and would be constantly monitoring the water level of the plant. Once the water level of the soil has reached a level of dryness, the sensor would log the data into the computer and then trigger the alarm, before a 30 second delay, before water is channeled into the two outlets for the plant and the cup. The Arduino system would send the log file of when the plant is watered every 24 hours to identify when was the plant watered.

• Risk and Safety: Identify any potential risks and safety precautions to be taken.
Risks: Risk of having electric shocks due to contact with socket with WET human hands.
Precautions: Dry hands before handling any electronic equipment.
Risks: Risk of having injuries of handling sharp equipment due to improper handling.
Precautions: A MUST to adhere to the safety systems of the lab, for example in this case, the safety of the equipment handling in the lab, like to ensure that for instance the penknife is used the proper to minimize the injury as much as possible.

Data Analysis: Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results that answer research questions or hypotheses
Firstly, the wetness of the soil would be measured using a humidity sensor connected to the Aurduino system. When the Soil is too dry, the sensor would transmit the information back into the device and trigger an alarm to signify that the plant is dry. From there, we would be measuring the humidity of the soil, before the automatic plant watering system activates to water the plant. We would have two outlets for the watering, one for the plant, and one for an empty cup, to measure the volume of water, which is watered into the plant. There would then be a sensor the measure the volume of water left in the storage container, before sending the numbers into the display.
As this is an engineering project, we need to prove that the system actually works, so we actually need to monitor the situation of this automatic plant watering system. To monitor the automatic plant watering system, we need to have a 24/7 monitoring system. This could include the CCTV surveillance cameras that are used in the school. We chose this system because we need to keep track if the plant is working properly, so that we could make any adjustments if possible.

D. Bibliography: List at least five (5) major references (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review. If you plan to use vertebrate animals, one of these references must be an animal care reference. Choose the APA format and use it consistently to reference the literature used in the research plan. List your entries in alphabetical order.

Brian Clark, H. (2013). Water plants in the morning. Retrieved from

Clemson , U. (2013). Why plants need water. Retrieved from
COLSTON, B. (2013). Watering plants. Retrieved from

Jim , L. (2011, July 29). Water regularly to keep your plants alive. Retrieved from

Mairi, B. ( 2012, June 12). 8 best indoor self-watering planters for the (black-thumbed) design lover. Retrieved from

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