Written by Justin Roberts
Amazone is trialling a new smart sprayer, which its claims can reduce herbicide use by up to 90% through the use of jointly developed software capable of sorting weed and crop plants for individual treatment.
The digital system has been developed as part of a partnership between Bosch and BASF, who signed a joint venture agreement in November of 2020.
It has now been fitted to an Amazone 36m trailed sprayer for further field trials this spring.
As part of the collaboration, Bosch provides the cameras, lighting and weed identification software. The BASF component integrates the data provided by the cameras, with both historical and real time records to manage the actual application strategy.
The match between lighting and camera sensitivity allows accurate distinction between the crop and invasive weeds, especially in poor ambient light.
Detection of weeds takes milliseconds and is possible at a very early growth stage, according to Amazone.
The speed of operation allows the instant application of a herbicide from nozzles spaced at 25cm rather than the normal half metre. Precision spraying of selected plants is possible with working speeds of up to 12km/h.
The new system can detect weeds at night thanks to LED lighting
Metering of the herbicide is controlled by pulse width frequency modulation (PWFM), which opens the valve above the nozzle for the required period to ensure the correct dosage is applied.
Automated crop management with Amazone
In addition to detecting and spraying weed plants, the setting of the sprayer and selection of the herbicide can be controlled though the use of BASF’s Xarvio, agronomic decision making engine (ADE).
“Thanks to connecting agricultural machinery using high-tech sensors, intelligent software and digital products, we can make tomorrow’s agriculture more efficient and at the same time more environmentally friendly,” Andrew Allen of Robert Bosch GmbH said.
Dubbed ‘Smart Spraying’, it’s a combination of Bosch’s camera sensor technology and software with Xarvio’ s crop optimisation platform.
The intention is that it will result in a reduced need for crop protection products in specific applications, depending on local conditions.
Various parameters, such as cropping, weed spectrum and weather conditions, are automatically taken from Xarvio and processed to create an application decision.
That decision is taken with reference to best agricultural practice of integrated plant protection to ensure application takes place at the right time, place and intensity.
Vincent Gros, president of BASF’s agricultural solutions division said:
“Both companies are committed to investing time, resources and funding in joint activities that will lead to the development of new sustainable precision technologies that improve agricultural practices and outcomes.”
The system is currently deployed as an addition to a standard sprayer, rather than a replacement. Full blanket application is still possible in conjunction with the spot sprayer if a twin line system, with additional tank, is being used.
The spot spraying system relies on nozzles placed 25cm apart
The company has been involved with Bosch and BASF Digital Farming in various research projects, implementing developments through a marketable product.
The gradual introduction of ‘Smart Sprayer’ technology, which is claimed to be unique worldwide in its technical possibilities and system approach, will take place in the coming years.
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