FarmBot Express and Express XL automates your veggie garden

Say hello to FarmBot Express and Express XL. This amazing piece of technology is an automated veggie garden system. This is designed to provide the food, nutrients and water to the plants, 24×7 so you don’t have to.

If you’re like me, managing plants is something you’re not good at. Humans are fairly flawed when it comes to remembering things that aren’t immediately in our field of view and therefore a garden outside requires a level of attention most of us just don’t have.

This automated system uses rails alongside the garden bed, that enables the head to move anywhere over the bed area. FarmBot Express and Express XL are powered by four powerful NEMA 17 stepper motors, GT2 timing belts and pulleys, and a stainless steel precision leadscrew.

This works in a similar way to overhead cranes in a shipping yard, or those bad vending machines you always lose on.

A custom electronics board features Trinamic TMC2130 stepper drivers with built-in stall detection, while the Raspberry Pi Zero W serves as the web-connected brain.

The great thing with Farmbot Express and Express XL is that it even plants seeds in the exact layout you select, then can individually water each plant. Because the system is smart, it provides exactly the right amount of water, far better than the typical spray and pray method we usually use.

The Farmbot Express is 1.2m wide and 3m deep, while Farmbot Express XL is a massive 4 times the size at 2.4m wide and 6m deep. Both of these new kits will come 95% pre-assembled in the box, so setup will take just one hour.

If you’re a developer type, then you’ll be glad to know Farmbot’s automation software is 100% open-source which means you can bust out some code and modify if you choose.

Imagine you’re not software-minded, how hard is this to use? The answer is simple, really simple. You can use their drag and drop designer to layout your plants. Powered by the data of hundreds of other users, the software helps you setup an optimal layout to maximise plant growth and yields.

Imagine you land on a great setup, just save that configuration and do it all again next year.

We cover a lot of technology on techAU and I have to say this was unexpected but is actually a pretty brilliant piece of engineering and design.

Using an on-board camera and computer vision algorithms, Farmbot scans your garden multiple times a day and get this, finds and removed weeds! I feel like this weed-removal technology could be applied to a separate product of its own, one that could be applied to any garden bed as managing weeds are one of the most painful parts of owning a garden.

FarmBot Express and FarmBot Express XL are available for pre-order now and are expected to ship in November, 2019.

Here’s the difficult bit.. the price. Like escaping your vacuum duties with a Roomba, this automated lifestyle doesn’t come cheap. The FarmBot Express costs US$1,495 with a July special, while the Express XL costs US$1,995 in July, before returning to its full price of US$2,795.00.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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