Weed-killing robots look set to become increasingly viable alternatives to traditional pesticide methods in the future.
Weeds are one of the biggest problems farmers face and the battle to control them is a constant one.
Too expensive and impractical to do manually, many farmers have turned to chemical solutions: pesticides sprayed from tractors or planes.
This quickly covers large areas of land. But the problem is that the poisons tend to be blown by the wind and settle on crops as well as potentially polluting soil and waterways.
Pesticides can also be damaging to peoples’ health. Some pesticides are thought to be responsible for the collapse of bee colonies and the death of birds. So if there’s a better way to kill weeds and pests, then that must surely be embraced.
Now at least there is some positive news with a number of greener, artificial intelligence-based options. These have the potential to severely disrupt the multi-billion dollar pesticide industry.
One of those is Swiss-company ecoRobotix. EcoRobotix has constructed a solar-powered weed-killing robot that can operate for 12-hours at a time. Utilizing artificial intelligence, cameras, and two robotic arms, it sprays herbicide on weeds but not crops. It’s claimed that this method requires 20 times less herbicide.
No pesticide at all
Another company in the killer-robot business is FarmWise, which has devised a chemical-free solution.
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Using computer vision and high-precision mechanical tools, the robot distinguishes between weeds and crops and plucks only the applicable plants out of the soil.
“We have built technologies that are allowing us to capture information, make decisions, and perform actions at the crop level,” Sebastien Boyer, co-founder, and CEO of FarmWise said.
“This changes everything for farmers, as they can now optimize their processes based on what every single crop needs.”
Agriculture giants John Deere entered the robotic farming solutions arena in 2017 with the purchase of California-based agriculture tech firm Blue River Technology for $305 million.
There are more natural ways to control weeds and pests. One method proven to be successful is through employing ducks or geese to eradicate pests.
IMAGE FEATURED: ecoRobotix SA