With hopes of reinventing the way food is grown, Rory Aronson has developed humanity’s first open-source CNC farming machine. The FarmBot Genesis — which will begin taking pre-orders in July — is capable of planting seeds and then watering them precisely.
Designed with the Maker community in mind, FarmBot is driven by an Arduino Mega 2560, a RAMPS 1.4 shield, NEMA 17 stepper motors, and a Raspberry Pi 3. What’s more, all of its plastic components can easily be 3D printed, while its flat connecting plates can be made with either a waterjet, plasma or laser cutter, a CNC mill, or even a hacksaw and drill press.
The three-axis machine employs linear guides in the X, Y, and Z directions, which allows for tooling such as seed injectors, watering nozzles, sensors, and weed removal equipment to be accurately positioned. Impressively, FarmBot can cultivate a variety of crops in the same area simulatenously.
FarmBot is controlled via mobile device or laptop, while its web-based interface makes customizing your garden as simple as playing FarmVille. You can also build and schedule sequences by dragging and dropping basic operations, adjust the parameters to your liking, and save. Meanwhile, a decision support system adjusts water, fertilizer and pesticide regimens, seed spacing, timing, and other factors based on soil and weather conditions, sensor readings, location, and time of year. And of course, FarmBot can be manually operated in real-time as well.
Aronson’s vision is to make precision agriculture open and accessible to everyone. Each FarmBot Genesis can be modified and augmented to suit anyone’s unique growing style and needs. For instance, you can power your machine with renewable energy from a small off-the-grid solar panel, or install a barrel to store and use rainwater.