Optical sensors for selective weed control aren’t new, but the technology has come a long way in recent years. A new offering, the WEEDIt system, caught farmers’ attention at the recent CanolaPalooza field day event held at Lacombe, Alberta.
To explain how the WEEDIt works, we caught up with Tom Wolf, with AgriMetrix. “It’s an optical spray system that targets anything green on a non-green background,” he says. The spray boom is fitted with sensors ahead of nozzles spaced 8″ apart. When a sensor detects something green it triggers the nozzle behind it to fire.
Wolf says that the WEEDIt is proving itself a real time and product saver, and could have a significant impact on herbicide resistance management, as well.
Because of the need for a non-green background, the system has a place in pre-seed burn-off, chem fallow, and post-harvest applications, Wolf says. Some farmers are achieving a 75% reduction in chemical use in pre-seeding passes. This is a good news story on many fronts, of course, but Wolf could see where those savings may be leveraged to add in some pricier — but very effective in the fight against resistance — chemical options.
It’s a good news story when it comes to stewardship, of course, as any time we can conserve chemical use, but still achieve top productivity, that’s a win, Wolf says.
There’s also a productivity gain, Wolf says, as some farmers are finding the decreased product demand can mean a tank takes an hour and a half to empty over enough ground vs. 25 to 30 minutes. That can add up to significant productivity gains in the already time-crunched spring.