Indian and American researchers in collaboration developed a weed removal device for precise application of herbicide to reduce financial loss due to crop damage
The new device can be mounted on tractor to release the precise amount of herbicide after sensing weed density through image analysis. Conventional system uses given amount of chemical on specific plot. The amount of herbicide has variation for every five percent change in weed infestation. The device is specifically developed for crops with a row-to-row spacing of 350-450 millimeters. The results of the study are published in journal Current Science in May 2018.
To test the efficiency of the device, field experiments were conducted on dryland with groundnut and maize crops. It was observed that the use of device increased the production, reduced crop damage, and saved around 80% of the herbicide as compared to conventional systems of herbicide use. The apparatus includes a storage tank, pipelines, cameras, deflectors, ground wheel, and sponge rollers. All components are connected to back of a tractor moving at a speed of 2.1 km per hour. Furthermore, the processing unit consists of a laptop with digital image analyzer application. The herbicide can be applied simultaneously in six parallel rows, which are served by a camera and sponge roller. Weeds appearing only between the rows are captured by the cameras and treated with the herbicide thus ensuring minimum crop damage.
The results of field experiments showed that groundnut plant damage was 3.6 times less than constant spray application (CSA) and 1.37 times less than constant contact application (CCA). In the case of maize, the plant damage was 2.72 times less that CSA and 1.33 times less than CCA. However, the device is still in its prototype and is expected to be launched in market in near future.