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On-the-Go Weed Control

Driven by increasing occurrences of herbicide resistance and a push to reduce pesticide use, the companies behind today’s weed control innovations are leveraging everything from artificial intelligence to lasers to drones to target weeds where they grow.

Folks interested in the future of agricultural weed control are spending a lot of time following the dollars being spent on precision technology and artificial intelligence (AI) as major farm equipment and chemical companies collaborate to improve the efficiency of their products.

Shrinking the resolution of spraying whole fields to prevent weeds or to treat isolated outbreaks is the path most engineering is taking as engineers combine machine vision with AI to create “smart” sprayers which promise near “single-plant treatment.” Such technology bears little resemblance to the early broad-spectrum herbicide machines that struggled to differentiate between bare dirt and green plants.

The systems under development offer the potential to improve chemical efficacy with more timely and targeted application rates — improvements which bring a smile to both bankers and those concerned with farming’s effects on the environment.

Fighting on Many Fronts

In 2021, AGCO announced a proof-of-concept (PoC) collaboration with Robert Bosch GmbH, BASF, xarvio Digital Farming GmbH and Raven Industries Inc., to evaluate targeted spraying technology for improved chemical application effectiveness, which could reduce crop input costs.

The project is currently underway in Europe with prototype equipment mounted on a Fendt Rogator featuring technology from AGCO. Bosch is supplying hardware, machine learning and AI capabilities. Xarvio Digital Farming Solutions provides automated real-time, in-field decision-making software, and Raven Applied Technology is responsible for sprayer efficacy and operational efficiency.

Earlier OEM investments pointing to the future of more precise and limited crop protectant application include the $300+ million John Deere purchase…

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Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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