One of the kindergarten fathers likes to talk about houses he can't afford.

Recently one was up for sale again for a whopping 1.5 million euros on the outskirts of Freiburg.

A pretty location, no question, also with a garden.

He was particularly fond of the garden, although, as he added, he had never raised a little plant.

But that's no longer a problem these days, he continued, there's this new thing for the bed, what was it called again, oh yes: FARM BOT.

Andrew Frey

Freelance author in the science section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

  • Follow I follow

Don't you know?

The kindergarten father picked up his mobile phone, which like most kindergarten mothers he wears on a cord around his neck, while his two-year-old son screamed at the pool.

A water phobia, supposedly, that can wait.

A rectangular wooden box appeared on the display, with an aluminum structure and an integrated CNC machine, like a milling machine.

It's child's play, he said, because a movable precision lead screw is mounted on the device, which takes over all of the gardening work: the "Farm Bot" can sow, water and even weed.

In addition, sensors monitor the bed.

He found the robot with the green thumb on Instagram, it's child's play.

With an integrated camera you can keep an eye on the bed,

LED lights come on when it's dark.

Gardening at night.

My first thought was: Boy, your kid is screaming.

But he wasn't impressed by that, the little actor would calm down.

When tech nerds get excited about something as down-to-earth as gardening, I'm always suspicious.

But then I found the robot thing interesting.

Six years ago I did a small experiment with smart gardening myself: I let basil and sunflowers grow in competition on two raised beds;

the computer did the casting for one, and I did the casting for the other.

That sounded easy, but the first problem arose when I tried to install the corresponding app on the old phone.

When that was finally resolved, I failed when attempting to connect the system to the wireless router.

And the necessary hardware hadn't even been set up at that point.

In forums and computer magazines you can read that the software for the "Farm Bot" is often twitchy.

And the construction is not trivial either, in the raw state it takes around thirty hours;

meanwhile, however, there are ready-made copies.

One of the testers complained that the principle of how the robot pulls weeds hardly works reliably.

Farm Bot doesn't pluck or rake, it simply pushes unwanted greens back into the ground with a plastic attachment.

If the weeds that are uninjured at the root grow again, the robot presses again in the same place.

In the end, it was said, one had to weed by hand.

In any case, I will not find out whether the "Farm Bot" is still worthwhile.

The price alone is stately, the smallest bed with 3.6 square meters is available for $1700, the next largest with 14.4 square meters for $2200.

And you also have to dig deep into your pocket for commercially available smart gardening systems, with a few hundred euros you can do it.

In addition to losing time and nerves, of course.

In the end, my experimental setup from 2016, which was not entirely representative, naturally had a winner: I clearly won the duel against the smart robot.

Keywords: