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Austrian camera-guided weeder works just as well at night

The camera-based guidance system Einböck Row-Guard for tractor-mounted hoes is being rolled out to more markets. Trials show the technology works effectively at night as well as during the day.

The Row-Guard unit from Austrian manufacturer Einböck is three-point linkage mounted. It incorporates a horizontal hydraulic cylinder for up to 500mm (19.7in) of side-shift to accurately position the hoe quick-coupled to its frame.

Two camera lenses with different exposure settings minimise the influence of shade and strong sunlight, and their large field of vision over several rows is said to result in accurate guidance, even where there is a large weed population.

The Row-Guard camera-guided side-shift frame can be used with Einböck hoes for crops from grain to pumpkins.

The Row-Guard camera-guided side-shift frame can be used with Einböck hoes for crops from grain to pumpkins.

The camera and electronics recognise green crop plants at least 4cm (1.6in) across against a brown or black background and in rows at least 15cm (6in) apart (centre-to-centre) with foliage separated by at least 5-10cm (2-4in).

Subject to soil conditions and the type of hoe and crop, Row-Guard guided hoes can work at up to 15kph (9.3mph), says Einböck.

Side-shift cylinder (foreground) has up to 500mm (19.7in) of movement to keep the hoeing elements on track.

Side-shift cylinder (foreground) has up to 500mm (19.7in) of movement to keep the hoeing elements on track.

Trials by the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, comparing camera and GNSS RTK guidance, show this speed can also be attained night when the crop rows are illuminated sufficiently – by xenon lights in this case.

In sugar beet grown in a 40-60% mustard mulch, the Row-Guard system successfully detected the young plants seven to 10 days after germinating and were hoed at 4-5kph.

Night-time trials show the camera guidance system can increase hoeing capacity.

Night-time trials show the camera guidance system can increase hoeing capacity.

At the four- to six-leaf stage, Einböck finger and torsion hoe elements take out weeds in the row and a third hoeing when the beet plants were larger could be carried out at 15kph/day and night.

Row-Guard is available with any hoe from the extensive Einböck range, which provides solutions for crops from grain to vegetables, salads, corn (maize) and potatoes.

Finger weeders that work between the plants are available to complement the rigid and flexi-tine mounted ‘A’ or side blade hoeing elements.

Finger weeders that work between the plants are available to complement the rigid and flexi-tine mounted ‘A’ or side blade hoeing elements.