Soil Sensor; A Concept Camera

Notebook page

This idea has been bubbling away for about a year and I’m finally about to build the first part.

Six one meter square plant pots loaded with sterile soil placed in different locations around Cornwall. They will be in place by the end of winter, ready to start collecting 2014 airborne seeds. As and when plants germinate and grow I’ll record each sensor and these will be the pixels that make up the larger image. Using photography as visual data analysis to interpret airborne dispersal of plants. It will be interesting to see what does take root although I’m also prepared for Buddleia and Sycamore domination, but hopefully not across all the sensors.


Allotment as Laboratory, a slow approach

Autumn Kale ©Tom Ingate
Autumn Kale ©Tom Ingate

Whilst clearing through the beds trying to find the squash and autumn veg I had time to ponder the coming winter and how best to prepare for next year. The summer has been amazing but I’ve little had time up the allotment to keep things in check so the nettles and brambles have moved in, ant nests have mounded up and field mice have well established runs through the long grass safe from owls and the occasional kestrel.

My allotment is small so I tend to use long garden scissors instead of strimming, it takes longer but I like it, it’s partly the point and why allotment time is so important, I rarely get time to think and ponder. Today whilst snipping round the paths, mentally I had redesigned the beds, decided where the bonfire will go, relocated the saplings and considered the best place for a soil sensor. By the time I got to uprooting the cankerous cabbage I had left the future plans of the allotment and was considering the multitude of relationships in the soil in front of me. The microbes, fungi, plants and insects.

I finished the job as the rain came in, the tail end of a hurricane. This really was the quiet before the storm. Deakin describes the pleasure of cutting his meadow with a scythe rather than strimmers. Today I felt the same quiet but I was on my hands and knees with the garden scissors observing all the small stuff.

I’ve decided that my collection of apple trees, veg patch and pond is no longer my allotment but a place of observation, experimentation and thought. It has become my laboratory.