I have been posting a few times in this forum but I have never mentioned why I am so interested in this project.
I am working on designing an ecovillage (or singular house) capable of automating the production of our basic needs: food, water, shelter and energy thus enabling people to live without money to a degree and experiment with new forms of society and alternative economies.
I have done and still am doing loads of research and Farmbot is the best and most accessible solution out there that I have come across.
That said, I was wondering any calculations have done in regards to the needed dimensions for one person to be fully self sufficient on food.
As for diets… Although I’m a vegan and know it is possible to survive on plants alone… I’m guessing it would still be challenging to renounce to things that farmbot can’t grow for now (I’m assuming it can’t grow rice, wheat, corn etc. please correct me if I’m wrong). So do you know if it would be possible to produce a nutricionally balanced diet with farmbot alone? If so it would be really interesting to share personalized information about nutrition and possible diets one can grow with farmbot via the app.
These two things would be very useful to know for what I am working on
We did a calculation that show FarmBot can produce the recommended daily servings of vegetables: https://farmbot.io/2015/10/14/how-much-food-can-farmbot-grow/
To grow enough calories requires a lot more land. Though potentially with a lot of optimization it could be done in a reasonable amount of area. The hard thing is replacing staples like oils, grains, and rice. Those typically require a large area or lots of processing with specialized equipment which FarmBot wouldn’t be as good at doing.
Thanks, that’s very interesting and super useful! In my research I found similar numbers required for the area needed to achieve self sufficiency.
Just throwing a crazy idea here, probably scaling the farmbot dimensions up would be more efficient and practical but… Have you thought about a system that could enable farmbot to “switch” between raised beds?
I’m guessing one farmbot would only be active for a fraction of the time on the installed bed so it would be interesting if a simple mechanism could be installed to change the raised bed or to allow farmbot to move from one raised bed to another. The main thing behind this would be that one farmbot wouldn’t be confined into working on one fixed piece of land.
A lot of people suggest that idea. With the current hardware that’s not very feasible. Especially when you consider the electrical and water tubing that FarmBot needs to be connected to.
What would be a better solution is to make the tracks significantly longer, and maybe even make the gantry wider. Over the next few months I’ll be experimenting with a double-wide gantry and tracks that are twice as long, so four times the growing area. That, combined with fruit trees and berry bushes, and I think self sufficiency could be pretty feasible.
New York state did a study that concluded that using marginal farmland for grazing animals is more productive than attempting intensive agriculture on that same land. I’ll have to dig it up. The upshot is that letting animals convert forage into useable products: milk, eggs, meat, fibers, etc is more productive than the energy input required to force the same land into plant based agriculture. I’d say adding a couple goats–at least a doe and wether as they get lonely–plus a small flock of chickens to a moderate sized property will greatly improve output. That being said, growing food for the chickens and goats and milking twice daily, which I’ve done–milk, store milk, go code at the research lab, come home, clean machine, milk, store milk, clean machine for morning–was quite labor intensive. Chickens aren’t so bad though.
The only thing to watch out for is predators. I used moving paddocks for both–chicken tractors and 170’ of dog fence panels–which is nice because they will prepare your land for you if you move it around carefully.
I suppose if the design included connectors for water, air, power, which could be automatically attached and detached, with a small power backup on the gantry, the gantry could switch between tracks.
True, though it would also require the tool bay and tools to be accessible on the other set of tracks, the belts would need to be taken off/disconnected and re-attached, and the machine would have to re-calibrate itself. Its really just better to extend the original tracks to extend the area.
The tracks can realistically only be extended along a single axis, the axis of the tracks. If you design the gantry such that it can also traverse across tracks, then you could leave the tool magazine fixed to a single position, or mount it to the gantry, and it would then always be able to access tools, but also its range would be able to be extended infinitely in both the x and y dimensions. I envision as system like this:
a) Tracks consist of a driveable carriage attached to a length of track.
b) Tracks run in the x direction, and are spaced evenly along the y direction.
c) A set of tracks also run along the y axis, attached to the start and end of the x axis tracks, and possibly also intermittently inbetween.
d) The carriage on the y axis tracks is posioned perpendicular to those on the x axis carriage.
e) The gantry is mounted to a pair of carriages at any given time.
f) The The carriages have connections for water, air, power.
g) The gantry houses drives that engage with the tracks, to drive the carriages.
h) The gantry houses a transfer mechanism that transfers the gantry from one pair of carriages to another.
i) The drive mechanism might involve belts, but it also might not.
j) the carriages would lock in place for docking/undocking, and when disengaged.
k) The carriages have a means of self identification.
l) calibration would only be required once, or again if adjustments are maded, since the drive system would be closed loop.
Futurist Playground is also developing automated and sustainable communities. We are looking for a few more people to work with us in Austin, TX starting in a month or so. Where is your team located?
Our websites are futuristplayground.org and www.auravana.com
Anyone interested may contact me through the websites.
Our current projects are creating both an aquaponic farmbot and a rooftop farmbot. We are always interested in collaboration and everything we create is also opensource.