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IC-Spray deals with every plant individually

Dutch manufacturer Steketee introduces IC-Spray, an addition to their IC-programme for weed control and plant recognition. IC-Spray allows each plant to be sprayed precisely if needed.

Steketee expands it’s portfolio of intelligent machines to control weeds and recognise crop plants with IC-Spray. IC-Spray is an addition to the IC-Weeder, a machine that detects plants in row crop culture using a camera and active lighting. The accumulated data is used to steer blades that hoe both between rows and intra-row (in between the plants in the row).

IC-Spray works with one nozzle per crop row and sprays either each individual plant, or alternatively the soil between two plants. Photo: Steketee
IC-Spray works with one nozzle per crop row and sprays either each individual plant, or alternatively the soil between two plants. Photo: Steketee

The manufacturer has sold dozens of these machines already to mainly open field growers of crops like lettuce, cabbages and broccoli, as well as to organic arable farmers who use them for chicory and sugar beet. In most mainstream arable crops this technique is probably too expensive for weed control, as long as there are not more severe restrictions on the use of herbicides, Steketee thinks.

High accuracy

IC-Spray can be built onto existing and new IC-Weeders. There is one nozzle for each plant row; the herbicide tank is carried in the front linkage of the tractor. Regular front tanks will do. Depending on the type of herbicide either each individual plant will be sprayed, or alternatively the soil in between plants. The IC-Weeder’s cameras detect both position and size of the crop plant. Therefore every plant – regardless of it’s size – will be completely treated with herbicide or liquid (leaf) fertiliser. The system compensates for missing plants.

At the moment only one, uniform dosage is possible. Steketee aims to make individual dosage per plant possible in future.

The camera’s detect position and size of each plant. Therefore the machine doesn’t waste any herbicide. Photo: Steketee
The camera’s detect position and size of each plant. Therefore the machine doesn’t waste any herbicide. Photo: Steketee

IC-Spray comes, like the IC-Weeder, in working widths of 1,5 to 8 meters. It can handle row distances of 20cm and wider (and soon from 15cm upwards). Maximum driving speed combined with the IC-Weeder is 5 km/u; the true speed depends mainly upon the plant distance within the rows; in lettuce crops it averages 2,5 km/u. Using the IC-Spray-technique without hoeing allows for higher speeds.

At the moment the first IC-Sprayer is working on a farm in Switzerland. A sale price is yet to be determined.

The purple colour shows where fluid has landed: much of it on the lettuce plants, hardly any in between. Photo: Steketee
The purple colour shows where fluid has landed: much of it on the lettuce plants, hardly any in between. Photo: Steketee

Read also the latest blog from Matt McIntosh: Remember spray basics amidst fancy tech

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