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Jason Hill and his father, Fritz, have been in the fight of their lives. The villains are Russian thistle and other weeds that are taking over 3,500 acres of the family’s wheat and canola fields in Pendleton, Ore.
But the Hills are making big gains because of a new weapon in their arsenal: the WeedSeeker Automatic Spot Spray System. The unit relies on advanced optics and computer circuitry in order to sense the presence of a weed and signal a spray nozzle to deliver a precise amount of the needed herbicides without spraying any bare soil. The sensors are mounted on a 60-foot wide sprayer that operates at 10 miles per hour.
Last summer, the Hills used this automatic spot spraying system on 2,500 acres of chemically-fallowed ground.
They bought 60 optically controlled spray heads at a cost of up to $1,200 each for their 60-foot spray boom. The 65-degree nozzles narrow down the concentration of herbicides sprayed directly on weeds as they are detected by the optical system.
“The WeedSeeker was used in a weed control rescue mode on chem-fallow ground last summer,” explains Jason Hill, who helps manage the 8,000-acre operation. “The weeds were huge; the worst I’ve seen in a long time. Russian Thistle is a serious problem. With the WeedSeeker, we’re saving money by cutting our overall chemicals need and reducing the need to reapply them.”
Hill says Russian thistle is a serious problem on all of the family’s acres, but it just…