Thursday, March 28, 2019

Where Robots go to Weed

A lot of hours are spent weeding on an organic farm. If weeds are not removed they steal soil fertility and moisture from the crop. That means smaller, less nutritious crop and less profit for the farmer. For organic raised farm products the farmer has access to a very limited arsenal of herbicides to selectively kill or hinder the growth of weeds. Many hours are spent physically removing weeds by hand, handheld tools or human driven machine (See my Sept 20, 2010 post on weeding). A potential solution from the field of machine robotics is a machine that can distinguish weeds and either remove them or spray them with a targeted quantity of herbicide. A machine that can physically remove weeds  would greatly reduce the cost of production for organic farmers. And for conventional farms that use herbicides the machine could reduce the quantity of herbicide required by applying it directly on the weeds and not in the surrounding area. This is an instance where robots can and will make small-scale farming easier and more profitable.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Whole Circle Farm for Sale

                                                   2010 (Back l-r: Devon, Monique, Farm stewards Maggie & Johann,                                                                     Peter; Front l-r: Andrew, Heather, Nana, Farm Manager Abi; Far back in hat: Rob)
For more than a year the property on which Whole Circle Farm resides has been for sale. The owner sold his house at the north end of the property, and while contented to see Johann and Maggie running the farm the ast 15 years, he has elected to sell the land. This is a blow for Johann and Maggie, and for the hundreds of farm interns, like me, who have come and gone. A core group of people are now trying to assist J and M, to find a buyer willing to allow them to continue to farm and to have a not too onerous Return on Investment. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Stating the Obvious But Making It Sound Special

I was in KFC (I get cravings) and saw a rustic looking sign claiming that their chicken is, "Farm Raised." Wait a second. All chickens are raised on a farm. Whether it's a one acre hobby farm or a 1,000 acre commercial complex, both are a type of farming. Clearly KFC is appealing to our sentimentalized idea of farming.