Along with being expensive, herbicides can also be harmful to the environment… so why apply them to the whole crop, instead of just areas where weeds are growing? That’s the thinking behind the robot Solix Sprayer, which detects and sprays weeds in farmers’ fields.
Designed by Brazilian/American agricultural technology company Solinftec, the Solix Sprayer will be manufactured by Indiana-based McKinney Corporation. Like Solinftec’s existing Solix Scout robot – which inspects and reports on crops, but doesn’t spray – it is powered by four solar panels on board.
As the Auto Sprayer moves back and forth between planted fields, it uses a built-in sensor to perform a “root-to-leaf” scan of each plant it passes through. If the onboard AI system determines that the crop is a weed, the herbicide is applied selectively to it.
The robot also creates a digital map of the scene, showing where weeds were detected and treated.
According to Solinftec, a single Sprayer robot is capable of managing up to 100 acres (40.5 ha) of farmland per day, depending on the shape and topography of the field. In addition, using a lighting system and a battery charged by solar panels, the Sprayer can work 24 hours a day. And because the robot is much lighter than a tractor pulling a “smart” herbicide, soil compaction should be kept to a minimum.
In its current form, Solix Sprayer is optimized for use on cereal crops such as wheat, soybeans and corn. Solinftec claims that in US trials conducted to date, the technology has been able to reduce herbicide use by up to 70%.
The plans call for the robot to be on the market next year. In the meantime, you can see it in action in the following video.
Solinftec Solix Sprayer