A NEW computer-guided hoe that could slash herbicide costs will be on show at Cereals 2004.

Trials, funded by a Home-Grown Cereals Authority LINK project, have found the new hoe could save growers up to 60% of herbicide use, and reduce costly errors in tractor driving.

The hoe, which has three 4m inter-row hoe sections, each with its own camera, will be on display at the HGCA stand, with experts on hand to answer questions.

“Each section works independently and can move from side-to-side to compensate for errors in bout matching,” said project leader Nick Tillett from Silsoe Research Institute.

“It‘s this capability which compensates for inaccuracies caused by tractor driving.”

Field tests using coloured dyes to measure the accuracy of hoe blade placement show that 95% of the time blades are within 2cm of the target.

“Using this computer-based guidance system will reduce damage to crops and improve weed control,” said Dr Tillett.

On-going trials are testing its ability to combine inter-row cultivation with banded application of selective herbicides within the row, with the aim of using only 40% of the herbicide.

“Work will continue over the next year to thoroughly test the system and measure overall field performance in terms of accuracy, work rate, energy use and reliability,” said Dr Tillett.

HGCA stand no: 510 and 513