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    This is amazing and I love it but it begs the (perhaps rhetorical) question: why has it taken us so long to get here? After all, agriculture is the backbone of our species historically speaking.

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        But are they truly the first open source version of this tech? That’s what I was referring to, sorry it wasn’t clear in my first comment.

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          Automation is not of course a new idea, but offering it as an easy-to-use garden option directly to the consumer of agricultural products you get much more efficient than driving all these tractors around. Scale is assured by distributing the means, so basically consumer becomes the producer. Which also means that you get close to zero environmental footprint by reducing shipping, logistics, refrigeration etc. This could have huge impact on how economy works, if it’s applied correctly that is.

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            Scale is assured by distributing the means,

            There is almost no scale in the production of agricultural produce with these machines. One machine can only cover a tiny plot of land and can only grow shrubs. The amount of capital per land area would be insanely high which means production/capital investment would be very low.

            so basically consumer becomes the producer.

            Just like subsistence farming. We stopped doing that for a reason, specialisation = maximising comparative advantage.

            Which also means that you get close to zero environmental footprint by reducing shipping, logistics, refrigeration etc.

            Easily offset by the embedded footprint of the machinery itself.

            This is a cool idea for home gardener. But it will not solve any agricultural problem. It’s a toy for people who are into DIY/gardening.

            ps. i was literally thinking about something like this 2 days ago, about how cool it would be for recreational gardener/DIYer and its utility in some resource constrained application like a Mars colony. You can get plenty of calorie with sweet potatoes which don’t grow very tall. But of course somebody already thought about it and even better, made it happen. In the future with cheaper energy cost you could have a warehouse sized system with a moving crane and artificial lightning so you can stack them vertically. It’s nice to think about.

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              What if we put this stationary robot on a rail grid with water distribution network? It would attach to the nearest tap and get the power once in a while from the nearby charging station. Then it would be almost like the tractor.

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                There is almost no scale in the production of agricultural produce with these machines. One machine can only cover a tiny plot of land and can only grow shrubs. The amount of capital per land area would be insanely high which means production/capital investment would be very low.

                That’s not entirely true though, I could imagine the beds to be stackable in the future. Vertical farming is the future either because as you said we’re running out of space. But the amount of space we use right now it’s not optimized. By distributing the production to the consumer, it’s more efficient because demand can directly dictate the volumes of productions. Wasting food is a very big problem and needs to be more efficient.

                Just like subsistence farming. We stopped doing that for a reason, specialisation = maximising comparative advantage.

                We stopped farming because it was a lot of effort, but now we got robots.

                Easily offset by the embedded footprint of the machinery itself.

                You can use rain water and renewable source of energy, I think it’s really low-energy device though.

                Of course, it’s not perfect but it’s a great start to see what’s coming down the road.

                P.S.: Great thought-provoking remarks, thanks!

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                  Vertical farming is the future either because as you said we’re running out of space

                  I’m not sure we are running out of space.

                  The real problem is inefficiencies in use: on the “living” front, we aren’t driving population density. This problem is starting to correct itself, though - people are starting to move into cities.

                  On the agricultural front, one quarter of ice-free land is used for livestock grazing, and 33% of grain crops are used for livestock feed. The best improvement we can get here is to further drive density - and, oh yeah, eat less meat!

                  By distributing the production to the consumer, it’s more efficient because demand can directly dictate the volumes of productions.

                  Worrying about vertical farming and a pull-driven model is great, but those are solutions Q and R to the problem. The best bang for our buck is to drive population density up and meat consumption down.

                  Some raw density data to look at: http://www.fao.org/Ag/againfo/resources/en/glw/GLW_dens.html

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          That source code screenshot looks kind of scary… why is React necessary in a farming machine?

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            There’s a web app front end for planning your plot and controlling the robot. The CNC machine itself is not using React - I promise.

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              Ah ok, scared me for a minute! :)