fbpx

Analyzing Norwegian DAT’s approach using precision spray technology

The DAT Ecopatch is an external system that mounts directly on a farmers existing sprayer at regular intervals along the boom.  - Photos: DAT
The DAT Ecopatch is an external system that mounts directly on a farmers existing sprayer at regular intervals along the boom. - Photos: DAT

While spot spraying of weeds gains momentum, Norwegian company DAT (Dimensions Agri Technologies) takes a distinctive path. Unlike conventional methods, DAT employs a patch spraying system, utilizing advanced precision technology to precisely target clusters of weeds in a very early stage. And all of this as a retrofit kit.

With crop farmers under growing pressure to cut their costs and reduce the use of chemicals there have been a number of interesting developments in technology to help them. Most of these technical advances include the use of sensors, and to a certain extent, robots or drones, to try and make the process of spraying more efficient.

There has been a great deal of progression towards spot spraying of weeds in crops but Norwegian company DAT (Dimensions Agri Technologies) is taking a different approach. Basically, DAT prefers to operate a patch spraying system where its high precision technology targets patches or clusters of weeds turning on and off boom sections on the sprayer as it travels through the field.

Text continues below picture

Using a patented sensor designed for harsh environments, images of the crop are taken and analysed in real time.
Using a patented sensor designed for harsh environments, images of the crop are taken and analysed in real time.

How it works

The system works on any sprayer that is Isobus friendly.
The system works on any sprayer that is Isobus friendly.

The DAT Ecopatch is an external system that mounts directly on a farmers existing sprayer. Using a patented sensor designed for harsh environments, images of the crop are taken and analysed in real time. Within the lens, LED flashes, several times stronger than the sunlight, assures high quality images no matter the conditions, both night and day. This lens is kept clean from dust and spray mist by an induced airstream.

Cutting edge deep learning algorithms ensure instant image analysis, which classifies the photos into crop or weeds in real time. Once the images are checked, the computer then decides whether the crop needs spraying, or not, and feeds this instruction to the booms.

Images to scan in real time

A number of adjustable settings are available on DAT Ecopatch to allow different levels of spraying, depending on the crop being worked and the conditions of the field. All the images can also be monitored on a device of the farmer’s choice.

This approach, as explained by Kristian Kaurstad Morthen, DAT CEO, offers more precision spraying with up to 90% reduction in herbicide use and 9% increase in crop yields. Kristian said: “The DAT Ecopatch system is a leading patch spraying solution for green on green in cereals, taking images of the field to scan in the real time, detecting crops and weeds. “At low weed levels, DAT turns off the relevant nozzles or boom sections on the sprayer through the brand agnostic isobus protocol. On our system a sensor is mounted every three to four metres, covering an area of around one square metre. This allows for very high image resolution detecting even emerging grass weeds.”

“The distance between the sensor is possible due to the distribution of weeds in fields, amongst competitive cultures such as small grain cereals. By using this approach, DAT takes an agronomic and pragmatic approach to precision spraying,” Kristian said.

Text continues below picture

DAT is currently in talks with OEMs about fitting its system to new sprayers.
DAT is currently in talks with OEMs about fitting its system to new sprayers.

Ten years of development

The technology behind the DAT Ecopatch has been developed and perfected over ten years by the company, mostly in-house, but also with some outside help. Having been through several field tests, DAT says the Ecopatch system has repeatedly performed well with both researchers and farmers.

Kristian said: “We have developed both the hardware and software for the Ecopatch as well as the agronomic logic, in collaboration with a handful of third party consultants and institutions. It has all been developed and refined in Norway throughout a decade of fields trials. The machine vision is, as of 2023, remarkably performant after numerous field trials and data collections across Europe.”

DAT says its EcoPatch system sets itself apart from similar systems on the market, due to its specialist technology and performance. Kristian added: “Our system takes high resolution images quite close to the crop, which allows for weed detection at an early growth stage, including emerging grass weeds. We are brand agnostic and can retrofit our system to any sprayer that is isobus friendly. Plus, we offer an attractive price point to the farmer ensuring a short payback time. To give an example, on average a farmer with 300ha of cereals can expect payback time on the system in two years.”

Text continues below picture

Precision technology reads the images of the crops and weeds in real time.
Precision technology reads the images of the crops and weeds in real time.

Text continues below picture

Precision technology reads the images of the crops and weeds in real time.
Precision technology reads the images of the crops and weeds in real time.

DAT Ecopatch cost

DAT has sold a number of its systems mostly to Norway, Sweden and Germany which are the company’s current prioritised markets, in addition to global OEM partnerships. Kristian said: “We sell the system retrofit through distributors in selected markets in Europe. The end price from our distributors to the farmer is around € 60,000. At the moment we are in ongoing dialogues with OEMs for possible commercial and technical collaboration going forward. There will be a price when sold from a factory on new sprayers and this will be determined in collaboration with the OEM.”

“We have around 25 active systems in The Nordics and Europe, with about half of the systems installed in Norway, being our home market.” In terms of feedback from customers, Kristian said ease of operation and understanding the patch spraying mentality, are the top features. He said: “Our customers are typically forward leaning farmers with experience in precision farming, typically taking data driven decisions.

“The farmers like that it’s really easy to operate as one button on the Isobus terminal is all they need to activate patch spraying. They are overall convinced that the patch spraying approach performs well in cereals.”

Join 17.000+ subscribers

Subscribe to our newsletter and we keep you updated about all the need-to-know content in the agricultural sector, two times a week.

Mccullough
Chris Mccullough Freelance multi-media journalist





Beheer