Engineering and electronics specialist Bosch is developing digital spraying technologies for selective spraying of herbicides with the backing of Bayer CropScience.
The 2 companies are to collaborate on a 3-year research programme to develop Smart Spraying, a concept using sensors, analytics and selective spraying systems to identify weeds and apply herbicides only where they are needed using the most appropriate sprayer setting for the target.
New technologies jointly developed by Bayer and Bosch will help farmers applying herbicides more efficiently. Photo: Bayer CropScience
Bayer is contributing lessons it has learned in the field of Geographical Information Systems, including the development of algorithms that serve as the basis for agronomic decision-making and integrated pest management, as well as formulation and application technology.
“We are venturing into new territory with Bosch, combining different technologies to ensure that herbicides are only applied in areas where they are really necessary,” says Tobias Menne, head of Digital Farming at Bayer.
“Weeds are difficult to identify, especially in the early stages of growth, but using camera sensors, the new technology can determine what is growing in the field and then adopt a targeted application technique to spray crop protection agents specifically on weeds.”
The new partners envisage a system that includes a digital “field manager” to assess the overall weed situation in the field and recommend optimum treatment timing.
Split-second decision for optimum weed treatment
Accurate identification of weeds and their location is performed using several cameras across the working width of the sprayer and in a fraction of a second the optimum method for treating them is determined.
In the final step, the appropriate quantity and herbicide mix is applied using the most appropriate application parameters, principally in terms of droplet size.
“Smart Spraying constitutes a quantum leap in weed control,” says Björn Kiepe, head of agronomy in digital farming at Bayer.
“We are combining state-of-the-art weed detection with the means to apply different agents on a case-by-case basis and extremely accurately on an area of less than 1m and the system incorporates pre-treatments, alternates active ingredients and focuses on herbicides with the greatest possible efficiency to prevent weeds becoming resistant.”