FarmBot, the open-source CNC farming robot

What do you imagine the future of farming to look like? The FarmBot team, located along the California coast in San Luis Obispo, is exploring just that. The team has set out to create humanity’s first open-source CNC farming machine to put the power of polycrop farming into the smallest of spaces.

The FarmBot structure fixes directly on top of any standard raised planter box. You can think of it like a 3D printer, but instead of extruding plastic, the tool head deposits seeds, delivers water and rids the box of weeds, all by moving across a gantry. Powered by a Raspberry Pi 3, an Arduino Mega and a motor control shield, the FarmBot brings agricultural automation within the reach of the committed hobbyist.

FarmBot Electronics

FarmBot’s interchangeable tooling set is impressive and has been carefully designed so that you may print tools with any hobbyist-level 3D printer.

The universal tool mount features 12 electrical connections, three liquid/gas lines and magnetic coupling. Ready-to-print attachment tools include the seed injection mount, the water nozzle specially designed for efficient watering, and the weed suppression tool which detects and destroys weeds at the root. FarmBot has documented detailed technical specifications of the universal tool mount, to encourage community members to design additional custom mounts that are specific to their particular farming needs.

Check out the tech specs of the tooling attachments for further nerding out!

FarmBot’s drag-and-drop web-based platform allows you to design and build your planter box farm easily. No coding is required; in fact, it has an almost game-like interface. Once your design is complete, the sequence builder and scheduler will help to allocate appropriate care to each plant.


It’s evident from looking at the design structure, documentation, CAD files, and detailed BOM that the creators of the FarmBot took to heart the idea of open source. By selecting off-the-shelf products and tools, they ensured this system is as accessible as possible. I’m really happy to see the Raspberry Pi 3 at the heart of FarmBot and I can’t wait to see how this community grows.

If you’re someone who’s serious about getting a good crop return from your small space, and you’re as mesmerized by FarmBot as I am, there’s still time to place a pre-order to receive one of the first batches ready to ship in February!


James Carroll avatar

All I really need or want is some kind of robot to weed. Walking down 200 foot rows with a hoe gets old really quick. I’d pay serious money for something that would just roll down the row pulling weeds. This thing is cool but doesn’t really seem practical.

Tom avatar

A pi, a 100W PV and a battery driving a four wheeled hoe would be a fantastic thing to have some 300 years after Jethro Tull invented the seed drill and then the matching horse hoe a few years later.
A couple of cameras should be able to work out the true crop line and 50W do the drive should allow around 1m2 of hoeing every 5 minutes or so. So it could roam a hectare twice in a growing season for about the price of the herbicide!

Dan Whittet avatar

Fantastic and useful concept, what I would like is to see these set up on office building rooftops everywhere. When, from our beige cubicle, we look out wondering about life outdoors, we could see actual food being produced. Solar powered? Check. Water efficient? Check (Could use blowdown water from air conditioning? Possibly. Sign me up!

Richard Sierakowski avatar

A brilliant idea that should rapidly grow in usefulness:)

Open Source can free up many empowering projects.

Greg avatar

Awesome, but $3,100 bucks… ouch !

Rob avatar

For the size of the beds, you’re better off going hydroponic, and no weeds..

Klaus avatar

Anybody can make a hole a drop a seed into it. That is not the challence – can this bot recognize crop from weeds and remove unwanted plants?

AndrewS avatar

After watching the intro video on their site, it looks like it uses the position of the plant to determine whether it’s a crop (at one of the locations where it planted a seed) or a weed (a plant anywhere else).

James Carroll avatar

That would keep things simple. Still I’d love something that could actually recognize plants in a large garden, not a small confined space like this. Over 3 grand for a little plot like this is impractical. I am planning an acre garden and could actually use something that either recognized weeds or that knew the plants and weeded the garden for me. Weeding is by far the most labor intensive part of gardening. With drip irrigation watering is no problem at all and cultivating and planting are a one time thing. As cool as this is I can’t see it being useful to many people.

rob v avatar

viewers should be aware that an experienced eye calls out the video to be an modelled animation, albeit a very high quality one. The lighting gives it away. So i’m still not sure whether they have built one or it’s just at proof of concept stage.

Vitriolix avatar

Lol, no it’s not animation.

I do have concerns about their claims of outdoor durability. Just saying it’s aluminum, steel and plastic, therefore it will last years outside in the elements isn’t credible.

Liz Upton avatar

Let me guess. You can tell from the pixels. (It’s not an animation.)

R Clough avatar

$3,900! plus the price of a 3D printer to make the thing!

It flies in the face of the Pi, and its ethos.

Can we have more projects for students, ordinary family guys and pensioners and schools with limited budgets please?

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