Agriculture is an expensive and wildly wasteful industry. For more than 10,000 years people have cultivated crops using trial and error methods, until mechanisation removed horses and installed tractors. However, with more advanced equipment, farming has now been taken to revolutionary newer heights by adopting staggering technologies such as satellites, high precision positioning systems, smart sensors, versatile IT applications, as well as a technologically integrated farming method called Precision farming – a system of managing variations in the field accurately to grow more food using fewer resources and reducing production costs.
Since precision farming has been hailed as the future of agriculture, sustainability, and the food industry, a company called FarmBot is working to bring precision agriculture technology to environmentally conscious individuals for the first time. The company’s first product — the FarmBot Genesis — is a do-it-yourself precision farming solution, that anyone can figure out. The system is already up to its ninth iteration, and the open source robot improves in each version thanks to input from the FarmBot community.
The FarmBot robot kit ships with an Arduino Mega 2560, Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, disassembled hardware packages and access to the open-source software community. FarmBot Genesis runs on custom built tracks and supporting infrastructure, all of which you need to assemble yourself. The online FarmBot community makes it easy to find step-by-step instructions for every single assembly process. There are even forums to troubleshoot installing a FarmBot in your own backyard. The robot relies on a software platform that users access through FarmBot’s web app, all of which looks a whole lot like Farmville, the infamous mobile game.
The physical FarmBot system is aligned with the crops you plot out in your virtual version on the web app. That’s how Farmbot can reliably dispense water, fertilizer, and other resources to keep plants healthy and thriving. Since it doesn’t require any delicate sensor technology, FarmBot is a cheaper solution than the industrial precision farming equipment on the market. And with its universal tool mount, you can adapt FarmBot to do pretty much any garden task you desire.
According to the website, FarmBot Genesis was “designed to be a flexible FarmBot foundation for experimentation, prototyping, and hacking”. Some DIY knowledge is definitely required to put FarmBot to work, though and if you know your way around open source software and Raspberry Pi and Arduino platforms, a FarmBot in your backyard could very well change the future of farming.
The company expects to ship its first round of July pre-orders in February 2017.