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How do you automate chores on your small farm?  RSS feed

Jonathan D Davis
Posts: 14
Location: Aguanga, California
forest garden
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I want to automate the daily and weekly chores on my small farm! How do you automate?

I am great at starting new projects but regular tasks kind of get me down. This morning I fed chickens, watered the plant nursery, manually operated the valve on my market garden, and moved a few garden hoses around to water some landscape trees. For some reason I was really bothered by all of these chores and felt a little foolish for not putting more effort into automation.

I have the infrastructure and materials to accomplish most of the automation that I require but I was curious how others automate things on a farm.... Irrigation of plants, feeding of animals, watering of animals, lighting and heating in greenhouses, tomato-picking robots...

There are obvious solutions (e.g. irrigation timers) and creative solutions.... and they are all worth hearing.

So fellow farmers, how do you automate to make your life easier
Eric Bee
Posts: 107
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Beyond the obvious ones you often put more time into developing and perfecting the automation than you save. In part because you still need to be in touch with what is happening -- even an automated process has to be checked.

Consider feeding chickens, for example. The bulk of your time is in just getting there, and since you have to pick up eggs anyway, you aren't saving so much time. Of course an automatic waterer is great. My own approach is to figure out where I'm losing huge amounts of time and try to optimize that. A really big one for me was location of tools -- orienting that around tasks and around where those tasks take place saves me over an hour a week. How I load the truck for market, how I weed, how I plant and harvest... all those were really big optimizations compared with 5 minutes here and there each day. I know it adds up but even when I did automate some of those things I found myself having to check my automation enough that, well, why bother.
Joseph Lofthouse
Posts: 2683
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Jonathan D Davis wrote:I was curious how others automate things on a farm....

I get up at dawn, and automatically do the daily chores.

Auto-openers for the windows in the greenhouse were among the best investments in automation that I ever made.

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