Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
“Smart Farming” efforts at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) have been incorporated with AIRSPACES (Autonomous Instrumented Robotic Sensory Platforms to Advance Creativity and Engage Students) project supported by Maryland Space Grant Consortium. Broad goals of the project are aligned with USDA’s “environmentally friendly agriculture” and NASA’s “earth science” mission objectives.
As part of the AIRSPACES project, the UMES team has developed and integrated autonomous platforms such as autonomous boats, autonomous ground robots, as well as unmanned aerial systems, to advance sustainable agricultural practices.
Farmbot, a small autonomous farming machine, has been recently acquired by the “Smart Farming” and “AIRSPACES” project team at UMES for conducting precision farming field experiments on a small scale. The machine seeds, kills weeds, senses soil moisture levels, and irrigates plants individually over 10 feet by 20 feet area. It is, in essence, a three-axis Cartesian robot quite similar to a 3D printer that runs on Raspberry Pi 3 and an Arduino like microprocessor board. It can be easily manipulated using a web application over a smartphone. A borescope type camera (Pi-Cam) can be integrated with the z-axis of the machine that can be used for weed detection and time-lapse photography. Food Science and Technology graduate students are working in concert with engineering undergraduates and UMES staff to oversee the installation and to set up the preliminary experimental layout. Some of the pitfalls and successes during the installation of both the hardware and software of the mechatronic device will be highlighted in this paper. Initial plans of growing turnips with the FarmBot were unsuccessful due to the severity of winter weather. The project team has completed building a hoop house around the FarmBot to extend the growing season. Immediate installation plans for powering the FarmBot with solar panels and wind turbines and meeting its irrigation needs through rainwater harvesting are in progress.
Nagchaudhuri, A., & Pandya, J. R., & Mitra, M., & Ford, T. (2020, June), Education and Research at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water with a 3-Axis Farming Robot Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34492
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