Robot planter helps prepare spring flowers

There's no doubt that it's winter outside in central Ohio (US). But inside the greenhouses at Timbuk farms, they are already getting ready for spring.

Timbuk Farms is known for Christmas trees, but it manages to stay busy year-round.  Right now, they are one of only two places in Ohio recruit the seasonal help of an automatic sticking machine.

Jim Gibson, Owner Timbuk Farms showed off the machine and said, "There's two cameras here that are taking a picture. And every time it sees a stem that it could pick up, it picks up the cutting and then places it on the exact spot on the tray." 

With the help of this machine, flowers like petunias move along more than twice as fast as they would by hand.

"It's such a small window that we have to do so much because spring is such a short season here.  But the main thing is the seasonality, it helps us with the temporary labor that we need," said Gibson.

Even with spring still several months away, Timbuk Farms is in its busy season getting ready for spring.  This means that the automatic sticking machine will be working around 20 hours a day or more for the coming weeks to make sure that flowers are ready to be distributed to surrounding areas before Mother's Day. 

"We're basically sticking these, we'll put roots on these, which take about 5 weeks and then we'll plant them in a hanging basket, which takes about 10 weeks.  These baskets will be ready probably the second week in April. "

Timbuk Farms says that the addition of technology like this is not here to replace any of their year-round workers, but will help stabilize the season ability of their business. 

Click here to watch the related video.

Click here to read the original article at NBC4.

01/18/2019 - Elizabeth McGiffin/NBC4

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