Weed-Killing Wonder: Star Wars For Farmers

from the advanced-technology-in-farming dept

How often do you read about an advance in the technology of weed-killing? It appears that some engineers and scientists at UC Davis have put together quite the technologically advanced weed-killer, that combines video-guidance and GPS to make it more effective than other automated weed-killers out there. The system is attached to a computer, that determines what plants need to get sprayed with very accurate “micro-spray nozzles”. The folks behind it say that it’s a good thing for everyone, since it reduces the amount of chemicals needed, kills off weeds, and alleviates the need for manual weeding – something that farm worker supporters are fighting for, since there’s plenty of evidence that overworked weeders are hurting their backs. It sounds like there are still some major bugs that need to be worked out, though, before you start seeing this thing wandering the fields.

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Comments on “Weed-Killing Wonder: Star Wars For Farmers”

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dorpus says:

When comes the post-environmentalist era?

Even if every single plant on land were killed, the ocean’s plankton still makes plenty of oxygen to keep the world healthy.

Earlier environmentalists opposed introduced species of any kind, but the new thinking among ecologists is that introduced species can 1. never be eradicated and 2. help the environment, e.g. Asian zebra mussels that have improved water quality in North America.

Then you have the “grass roots” environmentalists who oppose cutting down trees, even if they are introduced species anyway; or the pigeon feeders who think they are “helping the environment”. Whatever image that environmentalists have of eco-friendly aboriginal peoples, the Australian aborigines practiced “firestick hunting” by which they burned down entire forests and picked up roasted animals afterwards. Sydney was a seasonal retreat for aborigines who feasted on moths that lived in caves.

Given the increasing prevalence of allergies among modern populations, it may be wise to act on aboriginal wisdom and burn down local forests.

Joe Canadian says:

From a former farmer's perspective

Interesting stuff…but from a practical perspective, one of the biggest concerns would be
a) how to afford such a complicated device – big captial expenses are difficult
b) how to retro-fit it to current tractors (not so hard, if its all in a single package that can be hitched on)
c) very important – how to maintain it! when there’s weeding to be done, you have a very short window of time to knock things down before they choke the crop. Things break down – especially given all the dust and dirt in the environment. Plus, accidents happen – you hit a hill, bump it, etc. Could be a nightmarish thing to maintain, especially all those arms.

And it depends on the crop involved, too. For example, tobacco farmers would be able to afford this MUCH faster than a tomato farmer – although tobacco farmers already do a lot of “weeding” automatically, simply by hilling up the dirt on either side of the row and covering over the small weeds – then its just a matter of having someone come by and knock out the remaining weeds, although that does take several days…

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