British companies develop vegetable crop spot sprayer

Two British firms have joined forces to develop a front-mounted spot sprayer for onions, leeks and carrots.

The Weed Wizard is the result of a three-year collaboration between applicator maker Techneat Engineering and software specialist Tillet and Hague.

It uses three high-definition cameras mounted on the 6m boom to provide images that are analysed in milliseconds by an on-board processor.

The complex algorithms can recognise all types of broad-leaved weeds, based on their size, shape and colour, and their position relative to the crop rows.

See also: Spot spraying option coming to John Deere’s trailed R-series

Techneat Weed Wizard

© Techneat Engineering

The system works autonomously once the operator has set several parameters, such as the minimum size of weed to target and the amount of chemical to apply when an unwanted plant has been detected.

Herbicide is carried in a 250- or 650-litre tank and is applied through narrow, low-drift flan fan nozzles spaced 100mm apart.

These are set to run 50cm above the crop to minimise drift, and there is a side-shift linkage to maintain pinpoint accuracy should the tractor be pushed slightly off course by ground undulations.

Recommended working speed is 5kph and it should operate effectively in normal daylight conditions.

According to the developers, the system can reduce post-emergence herbicide use by more than 95% and, at earlier growth stages, it can also be used to apply non-selective herbicides such as glyphosate at low pressure.

It is priced at £85,000.

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