Thursday, November 18, 2021

Latest weapon in farmers' war against superweeds: a 10,000-lb. laser-weeder robot, going to grain crops next year

Photo from Carbon Robotics
Farmers' reliance on herbicides to combat weeds has increased greatly. From 2012 to 2016, about 281 million pounds of glyphosate, an active ingredient in most herbicides, were applied to 298 million acres per year in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency. "Potential bans on herbicides and the growing number of superweeds have raised scrutiny regarding that reliance," Laurie Bedord reports for Successful Farming. "By creating a 10,000-pound robot with laser power that eradicates weeds, Carbon Robotics is taking on one of agriculture’s biggest challenges."

About the size of a mid-range tractor, the machine uses 20 high-resolution cameras to spot weeds and annihilate them without hurting the crop or soil. It goes about 1-2 miles per hour, and can kill about 100,000 weeds in an hour on crops as high as three feet tall, Bedord reports.

It's currently focusing on weeds for specialty crops such as onions and broccoli, but will likely begin testing on corn, soybeans and wheat in 2022, the company says. 

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