Robocrop brings weeds to justice

Controlling weeds with as little as 1-2% of the overall herbicide rate is the objective with spot spraying, used on one of the award-winning machines at last week’s Cereals 2014 event in England.

The Robocrop Spot Sprayer is the latest in the Garford Robocrop Family utilising the Robocrop imaging system, which firstly defines the position of the crop, and then looks for clumps of weeds growing between or amongst the crop rows, which it then targets with a special jet of weedkiller to kill the weed while avoiding contact with the crop.

Garford Farm Machinery Ltd were awarded the Gold IMMA Award for the sprayer at Cereals 2014. It won the sprayer category award. The Robocrop Spot Sprayer has been in development over the last few years by Garford’s technology partners, Tillett Hague Technology, prompted by the impending withdrawal of key herbicides, particularly those used for volunteer potato control in onion and carrot crops.

“This type of intelligent chemical applicator is likely to play an ever increasing part in world agriculture as the armoury of selective herbicides become further depleted and herbicide resistance increases. The environmental benefits is also considerable“, said Philip Garford, Managing Director.

It could be employed in any crops where a regular crop row structure can be identified, and clumps of problem weeds exist. As well as development of the image analysis software, the project also involved the design and development of a special fluidic nozzle, in conjunction with Hypro EU Ltd, to provide an accurately directed jet of spray composed of a very narrow range droplet size in order to avoid splash off or drift. The Spot Sprayer is currently available in sizes up to 6mtr working width and working speeds of 7kph are normal. It also won the Institution of Agricultural Engineer’s (IAgrE) Ivel Innovation Award earlier this year.

To select the winners of the International Machinery Manufacturers Awards (IMMA) at the Cereals 2014 event, judging was carried out by experts from organisations such as Harper Adams University and the Agricultural Engineers Association.

Michelin has introduced the BibLoad Hard Surface radial tyre for farm machines that spend a lot of time travelling on hard, wet surfaces.

With farmers spending almost as much time travelling on roads and concrete farmyards as on soft ground, and increased farm use of compact loaders and telehandlers that carry out a large number of lateral, longitudinal and transversal movements, the new tyre has diamond-shaped, multi-directional tread blocks which provide six different grip angles, with facets that make the block more rigid regardless of tread depth.

It also has reinforced sidewalls for more resistance to cuts and scrapes. Michelin claim improved driving comfort and reduced noise for macine operators using the tyres, which comes in 400/70 R20 and 460/70 R24 sizes, with other sizes to follow to accompany changes in equipment design.

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