No more hoeing and scratching? Not if you have a weeding robot! Imagine that. It’s a gardener’s dream come true when organic weed control is a must. A weed-free vegetable garden without chemicals or sacrificing all your summer weekends to make it happen.
Amazing, right? I don’t know about you, but I gotta have one of these robotic weed control gadgets. Just because you’ve got a crazy busy life doesn’t mean you don’t want fresh homegrown vegetables. But the weeds are always at the bottom of that To Do List. And once they’re out of control, which seems to happen overnight, many just toss in the towel. It’s just way too much like work to be enjoyable.
More people would grow their own if it weren’t for the incessantly and aggressively multiplying weeds. And those who are committed to gardening and want organic weed control, try everything under the sun in an attempt to be victorious.
Mulch is a temporary fix. As is that weed fabric from the hardware or garden center, which is not designed to stop weed growth completely… unless covered with mulch. And as dirt collects under the mulch, the weeds move in. If you’re serious about stopping all weeds without chemicals, you need nursery ground cover fabric. But it’s expensive, you have to remove it every fall, relay it every spring, and replace it every 5-7 years.
Let’s face it. Physical barriers create a good deal of extra labor and expense. They can also cause concerns for safety of use. Like the cardboard mulch trick. Do you know where that cardboard has been since the day it ceased being a tree? Just because cardboard is paper, doesn’t mean it’s free of chemicals! There’s processing chemicals, glues, dyes, and who knows what else sandwiched in that material.
So, it’s no wonder that a practical robot would see the huge need the world has for a weeding robot. Yes, this has been tossed about before, but usually on the commercial agriculture scale. No machine or implement ever materialized on the market. Obviously, because the Roundup and glyphosate continue to flow freely everywhere. But more and more people want organic weed control, from home gardeners to farms of all sizes.
Enter Tertill: Weeding Robot for Small Farms and Gardens
Now here’s a really smart growing tool, designed to provide a solution to a huge problem that many people have. After a couple years in research and development, the Tertill is ready for a product launch. The maker, Franklin Robotics, anticipates the fully automated weeding gadget to scream into small farm and gardener awareness this summer via a crowdfunding campaign.
Normally, I wouldn’t write a post about a startup’s product before it’s in the pre-order or Kickstarter phase. But, this isn’t your average startup tech company. The CTO is Joe Jones, the man who invented the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, which is now zipping around 15 million homes keeping them dust-bunny-free. A robotic weed killer is the natural next step, right? Organic weed control is a huge problem that the right robotic design can solve.
A cool looking little machine with tractor-like wheels for good traction. Tertill just hangs out in the vegetable garden all summer – plowing through the mud or fluffy soil, climbing over rocks and uneven terrain. No need for babysitting or protection. It’s weatherproof and solar-powered. It just zips around tirelessly performing organic weed control service all day… 7 days a week, for months on end. Imagine never seeing a weed in your vegetable garden over an inch tall.
The bot’s built-in sensors detect new plants springing out of the soil as it cruises around. When it spots one, the little weed whacker on the bottom whirs into action, and the interloper is history. It doesn’t pull the weed. But that’s okay. At this fragile stage of growth, most weeds give up and die after their head is chopped off a few times. It starves the roots of energy from the sun needed to survive and grow. Without any leaves at all to collect energy to make food from nutrients, death by starvation is imminent… 98% of the time.
What gardener could resist? Even urban farmers with row crops will get really excited about this.
Of course, because recognition between weed and baby plant isn’t possible, you will have to protect rows of seedlings and small plants from your single-minded robotic helper. It only whacks plants an inch or less tall that will fit under the front bumper. The Tertill is supposed to come with some cones for single plants, but creating a temporary barrier to a whole row will likely be up to the user. Perhaps stakes and twine will do the trick. A small matter when you consider the big, beautiful picture of a weeding-free summer.
By the way, it’s a smart garden gadget too. The Tertill weeding robot will also be equipped with WiFi to give you reporting on your soil health and moisture status sent to your mobile device via an app. Oh, and here’s a bonus any gardener will love… it scares off pesky garden robbers like squirrels and rabbits. Hmm – will it spook deer too? If so, we’re approaching the can’t-live-without-it level now.
Once out of the prototype stage, it will probably be a much snazzier color. A choice of serene sky blue, candy apple red, and maybe outrageous orange would be nice, don’t you think? Definitely not green. Bright colors make it more fun. Unlike most garden tools, you’ll be able to watch it work if it stands out instead of blending in.
Retail is currently expected to be around $300. I’ll be watching for the crowdfunding kickoff, so stay tuned for that 🙂
- Franklin Robotics
- Technology Review (Nov. 2016)
- Weeds, Robots & Magic (interesting article!)
- Kansas City Star (source)
- Feature image courtesy of Twitter retweet
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