Smarter Sprayers Help Reduce Costs and Drift Challenges

See & Spray Select uses camera technology to detect color differentiation in the field and is ideal for small-grains farmers who manage weed pressure on fallow acres.

As the sprayer moves through the field, cameras mounted on the boom rapidly detect only green plants within fallow ground and trigger an application to those plants.

The forward-facing cameras spaced every three feet detect weeds (“green” as small as 1/4-inch in diameter in a “brown” fallow field). When identified, a processor activates the correct nozzle for treatment of the weed. See & Spray analyzes 2,112 square feet per second from a sprayer moving at 12 mph. The entire process, from target detection to application, occurs in 200 milliseconds, about the blink of an eye.

One of its benefits is its high hit rate. Deere said See & Spray Select has a similar hit rate to broadcast spraying, while applying 77% less herbicide on average.

Initially, Deere is marketing its technology to small-grains farmers who manage weed pressure on fallow acres as part of a regular rotation. Deere is targeting US regions east of the Rockies and in the Northwest for its initial sales of See & Spray Select.

Deere is promising a new, in-season, “green on green” See & Spray product soon. Treating pigweed in a row-crop application, for example, is more challenging than treating weeds on a fallow field. But Deere has been steadily working toward that goal in both preemergence and postemergence applications.

See Deere’s See & Spray next-generation teaser video at https://www.youtube.com/….

See & Spray is built onto the foundation of Deere’s ExactApply technology introduced in 2017. Its 400 and 600 Series sprayers equipped with See & Spray Select are the only factory-built solutions enabling farmers to operate both a spot-spray and a broadcast machine in one unit.

“Farmers battling herbicide resistance in their fields can now utilize more expensive and complex tank mixes and achieve a more effective weed kill at a lower cost than they could have in the past, thanks to the cost savings realized from only applying products onto the targeted weeds versus spraying the entire field,” Joel Basinger, marketing manager for John Deere, said at the time of launch. “This helps farmers cover more acres per day because they’re not stopping as often to refill.”

For more information, visit www.JohnDeere.com/SeeAndSpray

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MAGGROW: MAGNETIC ASSIST

As MagGrow opened its doors in 2013, the issue it sought to tackle was pesticide waste — up to 70% of a product wasted. “These products are expensive, but 70% was being wasted using conventional technology, mainly by way of the nozzles,” said Gary Wickham, CEO of MagGrow. The waste is herbicide product lost to drift and lack of plant adhesion.

MagGrow’s core magnetic assist technology reduces waste, improves sustainability practices, and delivers better plant-protection products, the Dublin, Ireland-based technology company said.

This is not a technology that detects weeds on the go. Rather, MagGrow deploys rare earth magnets to expose pesticide fluids to static, nonuniform magnetic fields. This affects the physical properties of the fluid in terms of droplet formation, droplet dynamics and droplet adhesion to the plant.

Wickham said MagGrow has no effect on the pesticide. The fluid is not magnetized and can’t be attracted or repelled by a magnet. The action of MagGrow is its influence in the system upon the charged particles present within the spray fluid as it flows through the sprayer.

The result, MagGrow said, is that its technology creates much smaller droplets but without the drift and waste normally associated when using these smaller nozzles.

MagGrow works with any crop. There is also a backpack sprayer version for greenhouse work. MagGrow also is not an electrostatic system that uses electrical discharge nozzles and air fans.

Some of its other highlights:

– No moving parts. The MagGrow system is designed to be retrofitted onto a sprayer boom regardless of make or model. Made from cast aluminum with no moving parts, the system consists of two components. One, eight manifolds containing rare earth magnets are plumbed between the tanks and the section control. Two, stainless steel-encased magnetic rods are fitted inside the entire length of the spray boom.

There are no moving parts and no electrical connections. The system is portable and can be moved from one sprayer to another. The magnets have long life. The technology loses 0.0001% of its strength over 20 years. “So, the magnets won’t fail,” Wickham said. MagGrow added, on average, less than 2% to the weight of the boom.

“Not only are we brand-agnostic in terms of the sprayer type, we also know we don’t impact the product. I can take that a step further. We’re working with some biotechnology companies on biopesticides. And we’ve done extensive work to show that there’s no impact (from) the magnetic field on the living organisms they use.”

— Improved coverage. Using the MagGrow system compared to traditional spraying systems, growers have seen spray drift reduced by up to 70% and improved coverage by up to 40%, MagGrow said. The spray technology is said to reduce water usage by up to 50%.

MagGrow caught the attention of the food-production world when it recently won the THRIVE/Bayer Sustainability Award 2021 in the Scaleup category. The award was given for MagGrow’s commitment to supporting more sustainable food production. As an award winner, MagGrow will have the opportunity to explore a proof-of-concept pilot project with Bayer.

The THRIVE/Bayer Sustainability Challenge was launched to identify and support key startup and scale-up innovators to implement solutions that promote sustainability.

MagGrow is also a member of Trimble Select Partner Program for Agriculture. MagGrow’s technology is available through a worldwide distribution network with a significant footprint in the North American market.

In the US, MagGrow is currently focusing on growers along the West Coast and Idaho — on strawberries, grass and potatoes. In the Delta region, MagGrow is working on cotton and peanuts, among other crops.

For more information and farmer testimonials, visit www.maggrow.com

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TRIMBLE: WEEDSEEKER 2

WeedSeeker 2 is Trimble’s next-generation spot-spray system. Introduced a couple of seasons ago, WeedSeeker 2 boasts twice the spraying speed — up to 25 mph — more than the original WeedSeeker product.

The WeedSeeker 2 optical sensor represents an important improvement compared to the original WeedSeeker product. It has a much-improved ability to pick out green over brown and yellow. The sensor uses a near-infrared reflected signature to identify the weed over bare soil and activate the respective spray solenoid to spray that weed.

Trimble said its product reduces the amount of chemical applied by up to 90%. WeedSeeker 2 is a fully ISOBUS-compatible system for use with Trimble displays or display from original equipment manufacturers.

WeedSeeker 2 uses sensors, not cameras, that could be used to record information from the field. But it does log the locations where weeds are sprayed. Operators can see in real time their problem areas and later review detailed maps for adjustments before the next spray operation.

“We are taking the as-applied maps, the records showing when a solenoid is actuated. And then, that is tied back to GPS locations. So, we do have records of where spraying was taking place,” said Nate Haverkamp, ​​regional sales manager, located in Loveland, Colorado.

WeedSeeker 2 “helps growers become more efficient by utilizing advanced optical sensors, as well as powerful processing capabilities that detect and spray plants smaller than a dime but up to speeds of 25 mph,” Haverkamp said. “When a weed is passing underneath the boom, the optical sensor picks it up, links to the spray nozzle and precisely delivers the herbicide that kills the weed.”

WeedSeeker 2 can be used on all types of farms, but its best return is from treating weeds on dark backgrounds, Haverkamp said. “Fallow fields or broad-acre applications are important. Viticulture is a big one, orchards. Think West Coast, pistachios, walnuts, things of that nature. And then, there’s even some use cases for interrow spraying in crops such as cotton.”

Trimble points to a University of Arizona study that shows the WeedSeeker 2 system is 98% accurate. “It is the fastest spot-spray system on the market today,” Haverkamp said. “It can detect right away a weed the size of a dime at 25 mph.”

For more information, visit www.ag.trimble.com/weedseeker2

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To see other stories in this High on Tech series, go to:

High on Tech – 1:

https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Editors’ Notebook:

https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Dan Miller can be reached at dan.miller@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @DMillerPF

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