The United Nations estimate the world population will increase by 35% by 2050. In order to ensure food security for a human population of 9.1 billion, world food production must increase by 70%. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) currently estimate that 95% of our food comes from soil, but that one third of global soils are significantly underproductive due to degradation.
Our Mini FarmBot program focuses on the automation of a farming system. Students will construct, program and manage a small-scale automated plant management system at BTS which they will then take back to their home school to observe in operation over 3-4 weeks. Over the course of their nurturing back at school, students are able to observe and record the effectiveness of their automation.
Through peer comparison and trouble-shooting students will develop a hands on understanding of the capabilities and limitations of automation. Success of their system is measured through the growth (or otherwise) of the seeds. This knowledge can be applied to designing effective systems for their home school garden or for animal feeding systems.
Experiencing the breadth of our local food industry responds on many STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) levels and encourages critical and creative thinking. The Victorian Government reports that "Victoria currently accounts for approximately one-quarter of Australia's value of agriculture and its agriculture and food product exports. The State produces a diverse range of produce including meat, grains, fruit & vegetables and dairy products."
- Application of laboratory soil testing procedures
- Design of an experimental procedure - variables, controls, measureable observations
- Building and programming an automated farm system to achieve optimal plant growth