Open-Source-Gardening Tech

This one is coming from opposite directions – and is probably indicative of a wider pattern.

From one end we have high-tech solving problems we don’t actually have, but which looks cool and will probably lead on to the solution of problems we do have…

And from the other hand we have open-sourced low-tech solving problems we DO have, the technologies for which have been around for decades, but have been made unavailable to the people that need them the most – because under the aegis of “The Market”, poor people don’t matter.

Maybe one day these two will meet in the middle. I think they will – In fact I think the killer apps of the 21st century will be exactly that – high-tech that has become cheap and ubiquitous, combined with open-source ethics, solving real problems – as opposed to eye-candy for geeks.

So. That said, this is pretty cool:


Kindof like a giant reprap that grows plants. This pattern of a 2-axis thing hovering over a 3 dimensional space that it lowers in and out of to “do stuff”. This one is cool because it has multiple tools – and multiple tools is a key part of the evolution of reprappery. In fact really, there should be a standard 3D platform like this with tool “plugins” that can be developed by other people – not necessarily wanting to build an entire system from scratch. A bit like WordPress or Firefox – or any other plugin platform.

There’s more at Lady Ada’s site – Lady Ada being a tower of strength in the open-source hardware world. Top blog as well. Her site has a lot more photos and links and whatnot.

I don’t know if this answers a specific need though – maybe if you want to buy out at the bottom and can’t be arsed gardening… but there’s a lot of people out there who like gardening. I live on a hill covered in old people, and they seem to like gardening a lot – what they need is a way to do it without having to bend over all the time, not some robot to make them redundant.

I get a feeling a better solution to the problem that robot gardeners are ostensibly fixing, is some sort of social reorganisation so that people who like doing this stuff are valued a little more than they currently are. Do we need robots or do we need jobs? Who are “we” anyway?

Coming from the other direction is a new plugin for the Open-Source Tractor Project that allows two people to plant 200 hazelnut bushes in an hour. A post-hole driller. Ever tried doing this by hand? Ever tried using a petrol-powered hand-held driller? This is a massive, massive back-saver.


A low-tech solution to an actual problem. This tractor costs around 5,000 – about 1/10th of the price of a new proprietary tractor – and it may look clunky, but it’s rock solid. It’s lean and mean design rather than feature-rich bloatware. Again It could well turn into a plugin platform – but then I think everything should be a plugin platform.

I mean, really I am a plugin platform… but nothing plugs in at the moment, so all these enhancements like clothes or laptops or cameras or phones or knives or chainsaws with flame-throwers attached are all separate entities – there’s no direct brain-to-device interface… but there will be, oh yes, there will be.

1 Comment » for Open-Source-Gardening Tech
  1. Marcin says:

    Nice perspective in the article regarding ‘plugins.’ Yes, LifeTrac is designed to be a plugin platform.

    You can support our product development program here –