Why WEED-IT and robots are such a great combination

Robotic precision spraying

In 2014, Australian SwarmFarm Robotics was the first manufacturer to equip a robotic sprayer with WEED-IT technology. A combination that allows for fully autonomous and highly efficient weed control. Since then, not only SwarmFarm has chosen WEED-IT, there’s many more (to come). Here’s why WEED-IT and robots are such a great combination

Highly efficient weed control

The Power of Fluorescence

WEED-IT, unlike spot spraying solutions that use camera detection systems, detects weeds using fluorescence technology for chlorophyll detection. It is a fool proof way of detecting weeds – living plants in general – because it is triggered by the amount of chlorophyll in the plant. The accuracy and reliability are unaffected by shade nor daylight or darkness and the technology has automatic continuous background calibration. Once set, WEED-IT can run unsupervised and thus fully autonomous as long as spray liquid is available. It delivers a precisely uncomplicated solution for autonomous farming on plant level.

Andrew Bate, founder and CEO of SwarmFarm Robotics trusted Grain Central the following: “The first use of our robots was spot spraying with WEED-IT. It is a match made in heaven. The sensors detect every single weed, even those that are hidden under the stubble or those who are too small for camera detection systems to pick up.”

While Mr. Bate and his clients have gathered a vast number of hectares and hours of experience over the past nearly 10 years, they’ve seen how robots equipped with WEED-IT perfectly fit into controlled traffic farming practices. At the same time, the lightweight combinations with their small tanks are easily ten times lighter than a traditional sprayer and thus help prevent soil compaction as well.

A match made in heaven

Autonomous weed control in orchards

GUSS Automation, originally an American contractor and pioneer in autonomous sprayers, recently introduced its third robotic sprayer model called Herbicide GUSS. Herbicide GUSS is built with cutting-edge technology to detect, target and spot spray weeds. To do so, GUSS Automation relies on WEED-IT sensors. “Time tested. Commercially proven”, so the company says. A single operator can monitor a combination of up to 8 Herbicide GUSS sprayers at a time using a laptop computer from the comfort and safety of a pickup truck. It’s another example of the efficiency and substantial cost savings the use of WEED-IT technology is capable of!

Not just for weeds

Because of their ability to detect and quantify plant matter, WEED-IT sensors are put to use in way more applications than just weed control. Dutch innovative orchard sprayer specialist Hol Spraying System (HSS) for instance, relies on WEED-IT sensors to detect leaf mass of fruit trees in real time. The spray nozzles are only activated when and where leaves are detected. Data coming from the detection sensors is also be used to record tree shapes and tree height. And in combination with gps, the growing power of the plants can be registered. Since about mid-2021, HSS has been developing an autonomous orchard sprayer in cooperation with Dutch autonomy provider AgXeed. The first robots called AgBot 2.055W3 & CF2000-AB, have already been delivered to Ontario, Canada, The Grower reports (see page 31). They will be set up for use in- three different apple-growing regions in Ontario: Hayden and Amanda Dooney’s Suncrest Orchard, Simcoe; Steve Bamford’ Bamford Family Farms, Clarksburg and Mike Gibson, Newcastle. Key benefits are to include lowering inputs with targeted tree level applications, reductions in labour/repurposing of labour, reduction of fuel usage and an opportunity to deploy further sensor-based technology to enhance precision agriculture in apple orchards.

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Do you have any questions about our products? Need advice on effective weed control? Or perhaps you’d like to share your experiences? Whatever inquiry you have, we’re here to assist you. Just drop us a line, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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