Just like dairy farmers, nursery growers could soon be using small robots for a job I had never thought about.
Space is a large preoccupation for growers. Too little space between potted plants and the plants grow into each other or develop black spots as they mature, making them unsellable, said Grinnell.
If too much space is left between them from the start, land or greenhouse space is wasted. And because many growers use sprinkler systems, fertilizer and water that falls into the gaps is also wasted, and that wastes growers' money. Growers also want to minimize the amount of fertilizer seeping into the ground and from there into water supply, said Jones.
Currently growers use manual labor with sticks and ropes to rotate the pots and measure the space between them as the plants grow.
The autonomous robot is about two years away from being commercially available, but the current prototype can pick up potted plants between 1 and 3 gallons in size. The waterproof and sun-proof robot can carry the pots around and line them up in organized grids based on a grower's specifications. [More]
I'm starting to mentally note repetitive, boring jobs even if I cannot imagine how a robot could do them.
Because it's a good bet somebody else can design one that can.