LSP4- Mechanical weeding in arable crops (sugar beets and pumpkins)

Innovative Tools for Meticulous Weeding: Dutch Pilot's Approach

Slow-growing crops like sugar beets and pumpkins demand meticulous weeding throughout the growing season to suppress unwanted weeds. To address this challenge, the Dutch pilot team has embraced an innovative approach, including the Robotti robot, Precision Seeder, Tine-Weeder, and Row-Steered Hoeing Machine. The mission is to minimise the environmental impact of conventional chemical weed control methods.

Robotti Robot and Precision Data Collection

The Robotti robot, equipped with forward- and rearward-looking cameras, captures invaluable before and after images. This aids in a thorough evaluation of the weeding process quality. The Dutch pilot has also laid a strong foundation for developing an advanced algorithm to recognize weeding quality. The team diligently collects critical data, essential for refining and testing the algorithm during the pilot phase.

Testing Grounds: Pumpkins and Sugar Beet Fields

The Dutch pilot

The arrival of the 2023 season introduced several challenges to deal with. It didn’t rain much, so the heavy, clay-like soil dried up, cracked, and got hard. This made it even harder to use machines for weeding. But the pilot remains committed to driving arable farming towards a more sustainable future, aiming to substitute chemical weed control with autonomous mechanical weeding whenever feasible. The team focused their efforts on a 1-hectare plot of pumpkins in 2022 and a 3 ha field of sugar beets in 2023. Acknowledging the influence of weather and soil conditions, they are dedicated to pioneering a path of environmentally conscious agriculture, even as challenges arise.