Stumpy and Springy - a Plexus Mount for Veggie Crops
Plexus field stations are elegant little solar-powered radios that measure soil moisture and climate in crops, passing the data back to the farmer by local radio to be stored on the web so he can read it at anytime from anywhere.
Ground-hugging crops like strawberries and vegetables demand something different from their Plexus mounts; some method of getting that pesky field station out of the way of overhead machinery.
Plexus radio links can operate near ground-level provided only that there is a through-the-air path to another field station or to the Plexus hub mounted at height outside the crop.
So ‘Beam me up, Scotty!’ is a working methodology for radio signals over vegetable crops.
Jack – MEA’s mechanical engineer – came up with a springy mount that lets the Plexus field station bend down horizontally to the ground, like a limbo dancer ducking under a 15 cm bar.
However, the forces needed to keep the 1m Plexus pole upright create a predisposition to pop the base out of the loose friable soil that vegetable crops are often grown in.
Jack designed a winged stake that can be driven into the soil to take these bending loads.
To complete the Plexus ‘veggie mount’, Jack came up with a slide hammer perfectly matched to the winged stake. No hammers, no blocks of wood, no bending over – just stand and drive in the winged stake, fit the spring and mount the 1m Plexus pole. The cables are protected inside the hollow pole, pass through the hollow spring, bend with the mast and are protected from animals and implements.
Best of all, MEA Plexus systems are quick to install in veggies – all the thinking has been done at this end.
|Dr. Skinner demonstrates the new flexible Plexus mount for ground-hugging crops.
Dr. Andrew Skinner
on 30 April 2015