Farmers have been forced to protect their crops and livestock from marauders throughout history.
The typical threat obviously varies from one farm to the next. Farmers growing tomatoes must fend off bugs, bunnies and rats; while those raising sheep or goats must contend with coyotes and other predatory creatures.
But these types of threats pale in comparison to the threats cannabis farmers face. Sure, cannabis farmers must battle pests and insects like those who grow tomatoes or carrots, but they face additional threats as well. Because of the high value of cannabis (a pound of tomatoes is worth only a few bucks, but a pound of weed may be worth a few grand), farmers who grow ganja must also protect their crops from nefarious types, who may try to steal their product.
In fact, cannabis is (by some metrics) the world’s most valuable cash crop, as it is worth roughly $47 million per square kilometer. Not even coca (the plant from which cocaine is derived) or opium (the plant from which heroin and many narcotics are made) are worth as much. They are worth about $37 million and $6 million per acre, respectively.
Given the sums of money at stake, farmers must often contend with organized criminal groups seeking to steal their plants. These criminals are often armed, and violence is not out of the question.
So, what is a humble farmer to do? Try to protect his crops personally, at great risk to himself or herself? Spend tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars fencing in their farm – a technique which is only marginally effective? Simply accept these types of loses and factor them into the business model?
There are no good answers. At least, until recently.
A few grow facilities in parts of the western U.S. are beginning to enlist the help of robots. These small, typically wheeled robots are able to patrol cannabis fields and alert the farmer’s security personnel to the presence of any nefarious activity. Unlike human guards or patrols, robots do not get bored, they don’t slack off and they don’t need to sleep. In many ways, they are superior to their human counterparts.
This not only makes the robots a better choice from a financial standpoint, it also makes them the more palatable choice from a humanitarian point of view as well. Gun play is an unfortunately common occurrence when these types of criminals are discovered in the act, which can leave security personnel injured or worse. Robots on the other hand, don’t die when you shoot them. They may break beyond repair, but they can be replaced just as you’d replace a broken microwave.
As of now, these robots only perform monitoring services. They are not armed, nor designed to apprehend or confront criminals caught in the act. However, some of the security firms producing these robots have considered equipping the robots with pepper spray or similar deterrents. After all, the robots themselves could be stolen by criminals looking to make a quick buck.