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SEE & SPRAY ROBOTIC TECHNOLOGY NOW READY TO DOMINATE AGROCHEMICAL INDUSTRIES

A field of sugar beet in Switzerland has demonstrated a solar-powered robotic machine that appears like a table on wheels with small tires moving in rows of crops to scan each row with its camera, identifies the weeds and zaps them with a jet of blue liquid from its mechanical tentacles.

The machine had undergone its final test having the blue liquid replaced with a weed killer. It can be said to be one of the new breeds of artificial intelligence weeding equipment which was referred to as the Swiss robot based on reuters.com publication.

Agricultural investors had predicted that the widespread of the robotic machine could disrupt the $100 billion pesticides and seeds industry by reducing the need for universal herbicides and the genetically modified crops that tolerate them. The investors which were dominated by top well-known industries are bracing up for the impact of digital agricultural technology and some firms are already adopting the business model.

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Mr. Phillips McDougall, a market researcher said that said that the stakes are high, herbicides sales are worth $26 billion a year and account for 46 percent of pesticides revenue overall while 90 percent genetically modified seeds have some herbicides tolerance built in.

The technology in the machine can be enhanced to aid in developing crop protection products according to Agricultural expert. The developer believes the design could reduce the number of herbicide farmers use by 20 times and the firm is close to signing financial agreement to make it commercialized in 2019.

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A Silicon Valley startup known as the Blur River was bought by U.S. Tractor Company for $305 million in 2017 and the firm has developed a similar machine using in-board cameras to distinguish weeds from crops and squirts the herbicides whenever necessary. Theirs also works with the see and spray mechanism and had been tested in U.S. cotton fields towed by a tractor and its developer said the machine can cut herbicides up to 90% once crops have started growing.

Agrointelli a Denmark company and Robert Bosch a German engineering company has already started working on machines with similar features for precision spraying kits and weed cutting robotic system. However, online research showed that similar machines may have been made but precision and efficiency may not be the same since some need tractor for towing while some may have their power system built in them.

According to the Abstract of the publication of smart spraying technology in Agriculture, Authored by Yuanyuan Song and co. “A smart spraying system in agriculture is a targeted spraying system with efficient application of chemical and low cost for the environment. A smart sprayer generally includes a targeted detection system and spraying system, in which the targeted sensor is the foundation of the precision spraying management. The detection system of a smart sprayer is used to collect information in target areas and make spraying decisions. Varieties of sensing techniques are applied, such as Machine vision, spectral reflectance, remote sensing and so on. According to the detecting results of characteristics detection, species classification, disease symptom identification and damage severity evaluation, the spraying system controls the sprayer operation. The review of the application of detection techniques, challenges and limitations are summarized, the developing trend is concluded based on the analysis.”

However, crop spraying drones have been said to dominate the modern system of farming why the new see and spray machines are robotic, self-activating and precision spraying machines which may be largely different from the drones that may need human control.

A good example of existing agricultural drone is the  YAMAHA  R-MAX drone made for Japanese farmers here is a little detail said about the drone:

“Probably one of the first UAV crop sprayers, the Yamaha R-MAX and its predecessor, the Yamaha R-50, were developed in the 1990s in response to demand in the Japanese market for aerial agricultural spraying. Fixed-wing manned crop dusters had been in use in Japan for many years, but the small size of most Japanese farms meant that this method was inefficient. Manned helicopters were sometimes used for spraying, but were very expensive. The R-MAX allowed much more precise small-scale spraying, at a lower cost and lower risk than manned aircraft. The RMAX is a gasoline-powered two-stroke engine with an estimated 1 hour of flight time. It has 2 x 8-liter spray tanks. As of 2014, there were over 2,900 Yamaha helicopters in operation.”

Meanwhile according to the bluerivertechnology.com, here are what was said about their modern see and spray machine:

Computer vision

Building smart farm machines to manage crops at a plant-level

Today, the best practice is to treat all plants as if they have the same needs.

See & Spray changes this paradigm, empowering growers to make every individual plant count at scale.

Using computer vision and artificial intelligence, our smart machines can detect,

Identify, and make management decisions about every single plant in the field.”

With the above two technologies in the agricultural system, wastage of Agrochemicals will reduce to a large extent and such will reduce the demand and consumption rates thereby reducing profits to the Agrochemical industries.

A mechanical engineer, an NDT inspector, Graphic designer & Web developer, I love blogging and sharing of knowledge for human intellectual development, especially relating to engineering fields, environment, and science trending updates.

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