NIGHT OR DAY. The LaserWeeder by Carbon Robotics is in full production with orders pending from more than 50 U.S. and Canadian farms. The LaserWeeder uses machine vision and heat energy from focused and targeting lasers to destroy weeds without chemicals or hand labor.  Photo Carbon Robotics

Killing Weeds Without Hoes & Chemicals

Carbon Robotics’ LaserWeeder eliminates hand labor & chemical use in high-value crops with technology that could fight Palmer amaranth & marestail in commodity crops.

We had a good conversation recently with Paul Mikesell, CEO of Carbon Robotics, the Seattle-based tech firm that began selling an autonomous LaserWeeder in 2021 and a pull-behind LaserWeeder in 2022, about the economic and environmental benefits of the popular precision machine.

To recap, the LaserWeeder is a computer-driven laser “weed gunship” that uses artificial intelligence to recognize and destroy weeds, leaving adjacent high-value crop plants unharmed — all the while moving through the field at nearly comparable speeds of boom applicators. The machine carries a PTO-powered generator to energize rotating laser turrets that lock onto weed species and destroy them with heat energy.

Videos taken from the business end of the LaserWeeder at work show weeds bursting into flashes of ash and wilting amid healthy, thriving crop plants.

Mikesell says the current 20-foot-wide machines work with 60-84 inch row spacing and can eliminate using hand labor in the field to pull weeds, while at the same time replace expensive regulation-laden herbicide use.

“The machine can operate to within a millimeter of crop plants, eliminating the collateral damage of rotating blades found on other mechanical weeders,” he says.

“Laser weeding requires no field inputs such as herbicides…”

Mikesell says his company is currently fulfilling orders for LaserWeeders bound for more than 50 farms mainly in the Western U.S. and Canada, and he is looking forward to international sales for the 2024 crop year. He says initial orders are going to vegetable and other specialty-crop producers in California, Washington, Arizona and…

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Dan crummett 0618

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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