As it turns out, there’s more than one Farmbot in the world. One is an Australian company, featured in the video above, which offers a high tech water management system that takes most of the work out of stock watering for farmers. The other is an open source farming robot, invented in the US, which also functions as a CNC machine.
While different in application, they are each impressive examples of the latest in farming tech. So we’re going to have a look at both, starting with the Aussie invention.
FarmBot Australia: next level water monitoring
The Aussie Farmbot offers a high tech but simple to use system that allows you to monitor water levels via your smartphone, tablet or laptop. It is easy and quick to install and, unlike the NBN, you can be up and running in less than 10 minutes, with no technicians required.
As the company is Australian owned, and their system designed for our unique environment, it has the versatility to be usable anywhere in the country. The sensors will work, and communicate with your phone, regardless of how remote you are.
With a dedicated global satellite service, Farmbot promises they can give you reliable access to your data, regardless of where you are on the planet. So even if you take a trip away from the property, you’ll be able to access and monitor your data in real time.
What Farmbot says you can achieve with their service:
- Cut manual reservoir inspections by over 90%, allowing you more time for other work;
- Receive pre-warning of potential problems so they can be dealt with before they become an issue;
- Gain detailed information and analysis on your water usage and water level history to aid in future planning;
- Real-time updates on your water levels accessible anytime, anywhere on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
The features that make it stand out:
- Simple installation and maintenance so you aren’t at the whim of technicians and can take care of the whole system yourself;
- No complicated on-site infrastructure to deal with. Just the water monitor and that’s it;
- No software to download or backup of data to worry about as everything is stored in an online server;
- Compatible with smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC to suit your way of operating
- Solar powered sensors that take care of themselves and require no regular maintenance.
The future for Farmbot Australia
The company got its start with the advanced water monitoring system but already have a whole host of new tech ideas in the works. In the near future, expect to see:
- Flow monitoring added to the Farmbot level monitor to give an even clearer understanding of fill rates and water consumption;
- An electric fence sensor that will send you alerts when any of your fence’s pulse rates drop under 40% of normal power;
- Soil moisture and temperature sensors;
- Alert sensors for gates and doors so you never have to worry about whether you remembered to shut the gate (great for massive properties where double checking involves a sizeable trek).
Once these applications have been successfully rolled out, Farmbot say they’ll be upping their game even further with the following developments:
- Sensors to detect intruders;
- Fire and excessive heat detection;
- Detailed traffic sensors that provide details of car movement and can even record licence plate numbers;
- Multi-purpose liquid level monitoring (for fuel and other non-water reservoirs);
- Flood-resistant sensors for rivers and natural waterways;
- Simple yet high tech weather stations;
- Power monitoring systems;
- Machine sensing and monitoring system for farm machinery, pumps and engines.
Farmbot USA: open source farming
On the other side of the world, a Californian company has developed a product equally worth of the Farmbot moniker. Their Farmbot allows you to graphically design a garden online and then print it into reality. All of their software and hardware is open source, meaning—if you have the skills—you can get the plans and build and program the whole thing yourself. For those with less engineering and IT know-how, you can order the whole package online.
The future of the American Farmbot
These machines are versatile and customisable and have been shipping all over the world. The Farmbot forum is full of information and conversations from students, engineers, farmers and backyard technicians who have all been experimenting with what the technology can do.
Because the whole shebang is open source, people have been using the kits to develop CNC machines and other variations on the design. One company has started shipping their own interpretation of the machine from China, with specialised software. Farmbot’s open source nature means there is no limitation placed on how users interact with and develop the technology.