Trials show promise of automated topical herbicide application

An automated vision-guided droplet application system with the potential to reduce herbicide use by 95 per cent should be ready for field trials in 2018, according to AHDB Horticulture.

Image: AHDB Horticulture
Image: AHDB Horticulture

The eyeSpot research project incorporates an automated spot herbicide ejector to point and shoot metered droplets to weed leaves in row crops, based on an innovative imaging system to distinguish weeds from crops.

It aims to minimise drift, spatter and run-off, will also evaluate the dose required to kill weeds at different growth stages, helping reduce chemical use still further.

Labour and energy requirements are also expected to be significantly lower than for existing mechanical weed control methods.

Preliminary field trials to establish proof of concept took place this summer. In these, droplets of glyphosate were applied manually in a crop of savoy cabbages, achieving 92 per cent weed control and significantly higher yields than with the conventionally applied pre-emergence herbicide, pendimethalin.

The rate of herbicide application, of just 83g glyphosate per hectare, was also 94 per cent lower than for the pendimethalin. Yields were "not significantly lower" than in a control hand-weeded trial.

The project's leader, University of Reading associate professor Dr Alistair Murdoch said: "By accurately targeting leaf-specific droplet applications, it is the ultimate in precision agriculture.

"The importance of the successful findings of the project cannot be over-stressed and it is, therefore, particularly important that systemic, broad-spectrum active ingredients such as glyphosate remain available to farmers and growers."

The research is funded by AHDB Horticulture, Douglas Bomford Trust, Edith Mary Gayton Trust Fund and the University of Reading.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

Upcoming reforms to water abstraction licensing will for the first time cap the amount of water that fruit growers can take for trickle irrigation.

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

At a debate during last week's Fruit Focus trade show in Kent, senior industry figures painted a bleak picture of an increasingly difficult seasonal labour market that is already impacting on investment.

What will post-Brexit pesticides authorisation and capital support for fresh produce look like?

What will post-Brexit pesticides authorisation and capital support for fresh produce look like?

The likely impact on seasonal labour has dominated discussions of the consequences of withdrawal from the EU for UK production horticulture.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon