Imagine a robot that takes the guesswork and labor out of farming. It targets and pulls weeds, tills the ground, injects seeds just the perfect depth in the soil and administers only the amount of water needed for growing using sensors which also gauge time, season and weather conditions. Now imagine that robot as a reasonably affordable machine with a catchy name: it's FarmBot!
Created by Rory Aronson while at California Polytechnic University, FarmBot is currently in its prototype stages. The machine works on a matrix which allows it to identify and remove everything that's not a plant, represented by dots on the grid. A drag and drop-based interface allows the user to customize the system to a garden or other farming plot. This type of strategy, called precision agriculture, eliminates some of the manual labor of growing and harvesting food, and saves time and resources. As in: urban rooftop gardens just met their new best friend.
FarmBot is currently crowdfunding — they even accept Bitcoin! — and hoping to launch a model this year. Check out their website — there's a great forum for fellow farming enthusiasts if you want to chat seed injector design or contribute programming ideas — and maybe start hoarding heirloom seeds.
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