Farmbot Berend at Van Hall Larenstein


Developments in technology are fast-paced, even in farming. As farmers increasingly use new technology, our Horticulture and Arable Farming department and its students want to respond to this trend. They recently installed an actual Farmbot in the distinctive rooftop hothouses of our Leeuwarden school. This Farmbot, named “Berend” by our students, is the first independent open-source farming machine in the world.

As you can see in the video below, he can water, sow, weed and much more. Farmbot Berend was installed by the students and can be admired by the general public on our Open Day, February 17th, in Leeuwarden.

Responding to the technology trend

The Farmbot is an open source project. This means that users can keep on developing the Farmbot, and that there’s room for experiment with adjustments and improvements. Ideas can be exchanged with other users through an online community. “This way we keep up with the sector’s developments,” states Sandra van der Galiën, professor on the course. “We want to offer our students the best and help them flourish during their studies. This project fits perfectly, because it’s still in the early development stages, so there’s a lot to tinker with. And that is the perfect opportunity for innovation!”

3D printer

From the outside and technology-wise the machine looks like some sort of 3D printer, but the application is completely different. A 3D printer is limited to the execution of just one task, whereas the Farmbot has a wide range of possibilities. “The machine can sow seeds, but also water them at given times and measure humidity,” Van der Galiën explains. “But there actually is a connection between the Farmbot and the 3D printer. The other day we needed a part for Berend. On the Farmbot-website you can download 3D drawings of these parts for free. As the Chemistry department has a 3D printer in one of their labs, we printed the required seed tray over there. And that seed tray is now in use. Isn’t that great?”