Automation is taking place in almost every imaginable industry. Agriculture is now also being immune to this automation. A new research project is trying to prove that robots could destroy weeds better than a farmer driving a sprayer full of herbicide. British based AHDB Horticulture; an organization devoted to various R&D initiatives for British farmers, is partially funding a new project called eyespot, which could revolutionize weed control industry. Knight Farm Machinery, Precision Farming Robots and Researchers from the University of Reading have teamed together in developing an automated spot herbicide ejector. The automated robotic system uses imaging system to distinguish weed from crops and based on weed size, the device will administer the appropriate dosage of herbicide into the crops. The researches claim that the eyespot system could reduce the herbicide use up to 95% and no herbicide will hit the soil or crop, it is hyper-targeted to each individual weed. A proof of concept trial was conducted on savoy cabbages in the summer of 2016. The proof-of-concept trials showed they could achieve 92% weed control, 94% less herbicide applied and better yields than using a conventionally applied pre-emergence herbicide.
Eyespot is a pioneering project and introduction of this system into the market could be an appropriate solution for weed control which combines engineering and chemical solutions to weed control in field vegetables. By accurately targeting leaf-specific droplet applications, it is the ultimate in precision agriculture. The approach of this automation in weed control is called as paradigm shift since this innovation is achieved through as much through engineering as it is through chemistry. Vegetable crops lack effective herbicides and depend on hand weeding to reduce weed competition and profitably produce crops. Reductions in labor availability for hand weeding and loss of older vegetable herbicides create uncertainty for the future of vegetable production, where eyespot provides an effective solution.
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