Food production is all about efficiency. How can I produce more food with less water, fertilizer, labor, etc? If we look at two farming paradigms, the monocrop and the polycrop, we can see where each one excels in efficiency, where each one lacks, and then see how FarmBot combines the best of both worlds.
The monocrop benefits from superior machine efficiency. The monocrop system has reduced the ecosystem down to one plant species in order for the tractors and specialized tooling to perform operations easily, reliably, quickly, and with minimal human labor. This system is very conducive to scaling up, which is why we see larger and larger farms with larger and larger tractors. However, the monocrop requires many inputs to stay functioning. Because the ecosystem is so simple, it is unstable, unsustainable on its own, and vulnerable to attack. A monocrop requires more fertilizers, pesticides, and water than any other system and it is still a struggle to not deplete the topsoil, pollute the groundwater, or defend against insects.
Monocrops require many inputs but are very machine efficient.
The polycrop benefits from superior biological efficiency. The polycrop maximizes diversity within the ecosystem in order to reduce the number of inputs needed. Less fertilizer is needed with proper crop rotation and less pesticides and water are needed with intercropping. The plants work together to form synergistic relationships and the end system is more stable, resilient, and sustainable. These biological efficiencies come at a cost though. No farming equipment exists that can perform operations on a wide range of plants at the same time. So machine efficiency is sacrificed and more human labor is used to tend the crops.
Polycrops have a great biological efficiency but traditional machinery cannot be used.
FarmBot combines the efficiencies of both paradigms into one. It does so by being the first farming equipment that can perform operations on a polycrop. FarmBot incorporates the machine efficiency, scalability, and the minimal use of labor that traditional equipment takes advantage of while managing a polycrop with great biological efficiency. With the knowledge of how to properly space out plants, create synergies, utilize beneficial insects, and match nutrient users and givers, FarmBot will enable the creation of abundant, resilient, sustainable, and efficient farms.