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Lasers, drones and AI: The future of weeding

No-one likes weeding, but new technology is helping farmers around the world tackle weeds in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way, as David Silverberg reports in a news report for BBC News.

Deanna Kovar from US farming equipment giant John Deere says that the company’s new tractor-pulled weed sprayer can reduce herbicide use by two thirds.

The system, called See & Spray Ultimate, looks like a typical field sprayer, in that two long arms or “booms” stick out either side of the tractor, with spraying nozzles dotted along the underside of each.

What makes this sprayer far more high-tech, is that it is fitted with 36 cameras. These constantly scan the plants in front of them, instantly identifying what is a crop and what is a weed. Controlled by an artificial intelligence (AI) software system, the connected sprinklers then only spray herbicide onto the individual weeds rather than drenching the entire field.

“Our system is capturing two million pixels per second, so it is seeing and processing a lot,” says Ms Kovar, who is vice president of Production and Precision Agriculture Production Systems at John Deere.

For farmers elsewhere in the world, a number of rival firms, both large and small, have developed similar smart-weeding technologies. These include German company Bosch BASF Smart Farming, whose camera-scanning weeder is called Smart Spraying Solution.

Source: BBC News. Read the full story here
Image: Credit John Deere

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