Sowing seeds of new technology

A cutting edge app that is set to take the grind out of growing is to be showcased at Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House in Wisbech on
Saturday (July 8).

The Farmbot, which is new to the United Kingdom and is being developed and distributed in this country by TVA G&C Limited of Downham Market, is the centrepiece of a technology showcase at a free open day at the museum.

A highlight of the day will be a talk about the future of technology by Mr Julian Snape, the firm’s managing director, who worked for Apple UK in the early days of computing and is a co-founder of London Futurists, whose membership has mushroomed from half a dozen people gathering in a public house in the mid 1990s to 6,500 people today.

Mr Snape, a business automation technology specialist and professional futurologist, explained that the radical new Farmbot – which will be on show in the garden at the museum – is a gantry system currently designed for domestic use and operating over a plant bed measuring three metres by one and a half metres.

The device picks up plants and seeds, as well as checking the soil for moisture, acidity and alkalinity, and waters individual seeds and plants.   The bot can even detect the difference between a plant and a weed, enabling it to do the weeding for you.

Although the present model is pitched at gardeners, a larger-scale version is being developed  which will be suitable for small commercial operations and will be of interest to a wider constituency of people who grow under glass.

The open day at the museum at 7 South Brink, Wisbech, a national memorial to social reformer and National Trust co-founder Octavia Hill, will also provide the opportunity to meet local authors at a book-signing session.

Author Anthony Carter will speak about his days photographing the giants of motor racing, including Fangio, Graham Hill and John Surtees, before high security measures intervened.   An exhibition of about 70 of his photographs will be featured in the Long Room.

The open day runs from 1pm to 4.30pm, with last admissions at 4pm.   Mr Snape will be speaking at 2pm and Mr Carter will speak at 3pm.   All are welcome to attend, but children should be accompanied by an adult.