Gardening Gardening tools Weeds

A Roomba for Weeds

The 5-pound (2.25 kg) Tertill will chop weeds into submission. Source: http://www.kickstarter.com

You knew it had to happen one day and that day is here: a robot designed to weed your garden!

Called the Tertill, the autonomous robot was designed by Joe Jones of Franklin Robotics, the man who invented the Roomba. It wanders about your garden, clipping off any plants less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) tall. It will simply pass by taller plants without harming them.

The weeds are cut off by a spinning string trimmer, much like a weed whacker, hidden under the body of the robot. By repeatedly cutting young weeds down to the ground on a daily basis and thus keeping them from carrying out photosynthesis, even established weeds eventually run out of energy and die. I assume you’d have to mow established weeds down yourself the first time, then the robot will keep them, as well as any weeds coming up from seeds or wandering rhizomes, from growing back.

The Tertill has four-wheel drive on special splayed wheels designed to operate on surfaces both hard and soft, including soil, sand and mulch. It’s waterproof, but still, doesn’t like puddles. It operates on solar power and so may temporarily stop after several cloudy days. Also, it works best on gardens 100 square feet (9 square meters) or less.

If you sow seeds in the garden, you can protect them from the robot by placing a wire collar around them until they reach more than 1 inch in height. Also, some sort of barrier has to be installed around the garden to prevent the little robot from wandering off.

Functional prototypes are already available to backers through Kickstarter and Indiegogo for about $249 US. For more information, sign up for the Tertill newsletter.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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