A Rowbot prototype (Credit: RowBot Systems LLC.)
Three Minnesota brothers have designed a robot that could reduce nitrate pollution and financial waste, NPR reported.
The Rowbot seeks to replace the massive fertilizer applicators that most farmers use. Designed by Charlie Bares, John Bares and Kent Cavender-Bares, the Rowbot is small enough to navigate rows of crops and fertilize plants individually. The more precise application process will help prevent overuse, which is costly to farmers and the environment.
Agricultural runoff is a leading cause of nitrate pollution in waterways. Excess nitrate can cause eutrophication and hypoxia, damaging aquatic environments.
The Rowbot’s small size also allows it to travel over soil without compacting it as much as a larger machine. Compacted soil contains less oxygen, and can be detrimental to the growth of crops.
Image: A Rowbot prototype (Credit: RowBot Systems LLC.)