‘FarmBot’ inspires next generation of Central Florida gardeners

Lake Nona High School agriscience students presented with new technology

LAKE NONA, Fla. – As Lake Nona High School agriscience students head back to class, they will have plenty of crops to harvest thanks to some new technology.

In May, the Orange County Farm Bureau presented the program with a FarmBot. The purchase was made possible by a $5,000 grant from the Florida Farm Bureau. The robot uses AI and is controlled by a cellphone.

“I know when I was growing up as a kid, that was the worst thing, pulling weeds, you know? I didn’t mind cutting grass but don’t ask me to pull weeds in the garden. Well guess what? This takes care of the weeds, so it leaves all the fun stuff in agriculture at their fingertips,” said John Madison, Orange County Farm Bureau president. “It knows the difference between every single type of plant. So, once we put it in the system, it knows that (this) tomato plant requires this type of fertilizer, the pH needs to be at this point and it needs this amount of water to live.”

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The FarmBot is the first of its kind in Orange County, but Madison said the goal is to eventually place one in every high school that offers agriculture classes.

Agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of America advisor Justine Snyder said technology like this shows students the changing face of farming.

“It’s really good for the kids who might not necessarily see the value in agriculture,” Snyder said. “But this is a great way to show how agriculture is moving forward with the rest of the world and how we integrate technology into ag every day, not just them pulling weeds and watering. And it makes it a little more interesting for them, too. It’s not just them pulling weeds and them watering. They get to see the robot doing that and they get to play with the map to see where they want the seeds planted. Instead of planting them, the robot plants them, but they get to decide where they go.”

Learn more about FarmBot and consider getting one of your very own by visiting its website.

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About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.