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FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine 133 133

New submitter ErnieKey writes: Farming has been stuck in a bit of a rut, when compared to other industries. Businesses across the globe have been innovating for decades, while farming has been using techniques that have been handed down from centuries ago. The FarmBot Foundation is creating a machine, similar to that of a CNC mill and/or 3D printer, which is capable of being run by sophisticated software and equipped with any tools you can imagine, including seed injectors, plows, burners, robotic arms (for harvesting), cutters, shredders, tillers, discers, watering nozzles, sensors and more. The goal? To increase food production by automating as much of it as possible.
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FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

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  • by raymorris (2726007) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @02:10PM (#47705129) Journal

    > Farming has been stuck in a bit of a rut, ... farming has been using techniques that have been handed down from centuries ago.

    Apparently this author's understanding of agriculture is based on cartoons. Self-driving cars are a brand new thing; largely self-driving agricultural equipment is not so new. Have a look at the cockpit of a modern John Deere in working trim. Better yet, come on down to Tecas A&M (agriculture and mechanical) and we'll show you some things. It's no coincidence that A&M is a leader in drone research too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @02:21PM (#47705251)

    Someone hasn't been on a farm in a while. Farming is seriously high tech, with computer vision and robots and machines the size most city dweller won't see their whole life. You may think having a latest gen smart phone and sitting in front of a computer all day makes you high tech, but farmers have you beat.

  • laser levelling (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmichaelg (148257) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @02:34PM (#47705351) Journal

    The fields I drive by on my way to work put the lie to the author's premise. A week ago, I saw a road-scrapper type device running around a field that had a spinning laser positioned more or less in the center of the field. The laser provided a level reference that the scrapper responded to moment by moment by lifting or lowering the blade. The machines are designed to build a field with a precise gradient so the farmer can minimize the amount of water needed to irrigate the field as well as to uniformly irrigate the crop. The water may be free but lifting it from the aquifer isn't.

    Further down the road, there was a device that was building perfect raised beds covered in plastic. Strawberries need to be grown in well drained soil and the raised beds provide that. The plastic is used to keep a fumigant on the bed until it decays instead of leaking into the atmosphere prior to seeding. Once the soil is fumigated, it's planted by an automated planter that leaves the plastic in place to reduce evaporation - again to save water.

    The next field over was being harvested by a machine that requires two people to operate it. Ten years ago, there'd be a crew of 30 doing the same task.

    The industrial revolution upended farming from what it was centuries ago and that process hasn't stopped since. The net result is fewer people are needed to grow more food at a lower cost. Downside is calories have become so cheap that most of us are overfed.

  • Re:not true at all (Score:4, Informative)

    by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @02:41PM (#47705417)

    Yar, and i'm guessing here without actually looking it up, there are already harvesters/combines that are GPS guided.
    And after googling: Yup.

    So we've got plants that since the 1960's are genetically altered (via splicing as well as breeding programmes) to grow shorter, develop more seeds, innate resistance to pests (grumble monsanto grumble grumble). Combines that literally drive themselves, fertilizer has been 'improved' (altered is maybe a better term?) to the point were god knows how much of it is is natural occurring vs petroleum based.

    Products like this (while cool) are caught basically without a market. The mega farms which could use something like this, already have their own versions. The smaller farms, can't afford it.

    And (yep, gonna get modded troll for this) we have a virtually unlimited supply of cheap labor from Mexico to do the grunt work.

  • Nomenclature (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ideonaut (2047822) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @02:42PM (#47705431)
    That's not a rut, it's a furrow.

It is easier to write an incorrect program than understand a correct one.