What does it take to get involved in precision farming? If your assumption includes vast land of several hectares, multiple drones, GPS-equipped tractors, smart sensors spread all over the field and winning lottery ticket, you might be wrong!
The concept of precision farming often creates the erroneous impression that it can be implemented only on large-scale farms with hefty resource and equipment costs. Nevertheless, it has been proven that innovation and smart technologies can be close to consumers and even people living in cities thanks to companies such as FarmBot. The company offers a kit that allows anyone with modest capital and a small patch of land, but a big heart of a farmer to grow his own food at home.
How does it work?
The classic version of FarmBot has measures 3 meters x 1.5 meters allowing to install it in the small spot behind your house that you have always wondered how to use. Equipped with an arm that is capable to move on three different axes it could perform various actions on the garden from planting seeds to watering plants and monitoring the soil condition, and to pulverizing irritating weeds. Farm enthusiasts, however, would still need to harvest the crops by themselves.
Everything is controlled by user-friendly interface that gives more of an impression that there is a video game in front of you than an actual farm-loving robot. The app which controls the FarmBot gives the user the possibility to choose among multiple settings, such as the watering time, the exact place where the different vegetables should be planted, create care regiments, and even scare away birds. Next to that, the app is adapted to every smart device as long as it is connected to the Internet.
In the heart of the FarmBot idea lies an open source system. It means that everyone with the required technical knowledge can build, (re)programme and further develop their own gardening robot, adapting it to their needs.
What would be the impact of such technology?
In its vision about the future of the company and its implications for the status-quo of food production, the founder of FarmBot Rory Aronson provides an idea that calls on us to meditate and reflect on. It will not be so difficult to imagine that similar green technologies would become commonplace in every home in the future, just like the personal computer today. Therefore, the current centralized model of the agricultural sector would be completely shuffled. Who knows? Maybe the hidden farmer in each one of us would see his star shine.