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Trimble weeds out the uninvited guests in the field

Photo: Trimble

Photo: Trimble

Controlling weeds is a natural challenge in agriculture. The cost of controlling these unwanted plants is also one of the most expensive line items in a farmer’s budget. For third-generation Brazilian farmer Ivan Bedin, trying to rid his 8,620-hectare soybean and corn farm of hearty weeds has been a costly challenge.

“Typically, we’ve had to blanket spray weed-killing chemicals throughout the entire farm,” Bedin said. “Even if only 15% or 20% of the area was weed-infested, we had to spray the total area. We were spending more than $145,000 a year on chemicals, and it wasn’t good for the environment.”

The Bedin family then acquired Trimble’s WeedSeeker 2 technology. This intelligent spot-spray system senses whether a weed is present and signals a spray nozzle to deliver a precise amount of chemical, spraying only the weed. By targeting resistant weeds individually, WeedSeeker 2 can reduce the amount of herbicides used by up to 90%, promoting sustainability and cost savings on the farm.

While driving 18–20 km/hr, the sprayer’s operator focuses on the WeedSeeker application while the AutoPilot system guides the sprayer. As he drives between crop rows, optical sensors distinguish the green of the crop from the green weed and release herbicide just on the weed. From inside the cab, the operator can monitor the spray system and adjust any application parameters in real time. With the reliability of the steering technology and the efficiency of WeedSeeker, Bedin has been able to reduce refueling time and cover his entire field 30% faster than with his conventional system.

Most importantly, the technology has significantly slashed his weed-chemical expense. “WeedSeeker 2 has yielded us nearly 90% savings in herbicide costs,” said Bedin. “Now we only need to spray between 10% to 30% of the farm — where the weeds actually grow — which equals a savings of about $70,000 for each 1,000 hectares sprayed. Additionally, because we use less herbicide, we impact the environment less.”

Because the spot-spray system logs and maps every weed sprayed, Bedin can also see in real time where there are weed infestations and review the detailed maps before the next spray. With the “seek and destroy” premise of WeedSeeker 2, Bedin’s formidable weeds may have finally met their match.

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