John Deere See & Spray weeds on fallow land and in crops

21-12-2023 | Updated on 13-02 | |
John Deere says it is still working on the pricing of See & Spray Select. - Photos: René Koerhuis
John Deere says it is still working on the pricing of See & Spray Select. - Photos: René Koerhuis

After the US$ 305 million acquisition of Blue River Technology, John Deere is now ready to launch Blue River’s brainchild, which is called John Deere See & Spray in Europe.

The technology will first be available on its R900i trailed sprayer series with 36-metre spray booms in 2024 for selective customers in France and the UK. Potentially also in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.

Future Farming saw a R962i trailed sprayer equipped with the European See & Spray system in action at a customer in France, who has gained practical experience over the past two years. While the American version is also capable of green-on-green spot spraying, the European version co-developed with the John Deere sprayer factory in Horst, the Netherlands, for now focuses solely on green-on-brown applications.

Launch in 2024

Apart from this, another application will be available at the product launch in 2024. Based on the green-on-brown functionality, See & Spray Select is capable of leaf/foliage desiccation in potatoes and wheat.

John Deere says it is still working on the pricing of See & Spray Select. The company won’t say if it’ll be a ‘per-metre’ price or a different price setting. They do say that retrofitting it to existing sprayers is not financially interesting for farmers.

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The system requires one colour-based visual camera per metre of boom width. The cameras capture 30 frames per second and at the required 50-centimetre boom height, they look 80 centimetres forward. The maximum driving speed on trailed sprayers is 12 km/h. The cameras are set up to detect greenness on a different coloured background, soil in most cases. The ‘row extraction’ feature identifies row crops placed at 25 centimetres or more and spot sprays weeds in between the rows.

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There’s no active light source around the cameras nor on the boom. This means that sufficient daylight is required. There’s one so-called white balance camera on each side of the booms for measuring the intensity of natural light. The functionality is similar to the white balance setting of photo and smartphone cameras.

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To process all the images captured by the 36 cameras, five rugged image processing units/computers are fitted to the spray boom. Each one can handle up to eight cameras. The image processing is done on the boom, not in the display or in another system component. All applied data are automatically uploaded to the John Deere Operations Centre. All in all, less than one kilo per metre is added to the spray boom when it is equipped with See & Spray Select.

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The spray tips are ordinary 110-degree tips with individually electronically controlled solenoids/nozzle bodies. They’re not PWM controlled. See & Spray Select is thus an on/off spot spraying system that is not capable of single nozzle VRA application. The five integrated sensors operate at boom heights of 30 to 120 centimetres. The software compensates for driving speed and yaw, and also filters out movements of crops waving in the wind if the row extraction setting is used.

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See & Spray Select ‘Europe’ is always offered with a single tank and single product application. The so-called PowrSpray system is responsible for the management and control of the spray liquid. Part of this is the hydraulically controlled centrifugal spray pump. John Deere refers to this as direct rate control: it’s the pump that determines the flow.

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René Koerhuis Precision Farming Specialist