Can spray technology help us better manage the escalating problem of herbicide-resistant weeds?
Spray guru Tom Wolf, from Saskatchewan-based Agrimetrix Research & Training, certainly thinks so. At the recent Canadian Weed Science Society meeting at Niagara Falls, Ont., Wolf highlighted two technologies he believes could help help growers manage weed resistance.
In this video, Wolf and RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin first discuss the benefits of optical spot spraying, basically the ability to detect dime-sized weeds pre-seed or post-harvest and activate a single nozzle that sprays the weed and then turns off.
The technology has been around for 20 years but has never really caught on. Wolf, however, believes that’s about to change. He explains that the WeedSeeker spot spray system was the first application of this technology, but it’s now been “leapfrogged” by a product called WEEDit. Made in Holland, the spraying unit is capable of driving up to 15 mph and triggering a nozzle that sprays an eight-inch-wide band for as little as one foot in distance. “The sprayer basically goes across the field just spraying individual pulses. The savings can be up to 75 percent,” Wolf says. There are currently five units in Canada. (Story continues after the video.)
With WEEDit, Wolf notes there may be a temptation for growers to pocket those savings as payback for the sprayer investment, but he feels it would be wise for growers to further invest that savings in a better tank mix. “Growers could apply multiple modes of effective action to better control the possibility of herbicide resistance.”
Wolf also touted the capabilities of Green-eye Technology, an Israeli company, which combines high-res drone imagery and algorithms to identify and locate different weed species in a field. A grid map can then be produced showing the density of the weeds throughout different locations in the field. Species maps can also be produced based on growth stage allowing growers, for example, to identify ragweed in a field at the 2- to 3-leaf stage.
“I think this is a tremendous advance in shape recognition. It’s commercially available right now for a per-acre-fee,” says Wolf, who notes that Green-eye claims reports can be made available to growers 24 hours after drone flight.