Researchers from Institute for Environmental Solutions and SIA “Meža īpašnieku konsultatīvais centrs” in cooperation with agricultural professionals from organic farming company SIA “Tumes dārzeņi” works on development of weeding robot and testing of already developed modules of the technology.
IES researchers have finished the first research phase of the development of innovative environmentally friendly and automated technology that will replace manual weeding in the upcoming future. For weeding between the plants, manual weeding done by human has been known as the most commonly used practice, but it is time consuming and relatively expensive. One of other alternatives could be a spraying of herbicides directly on plants, but it is not suited for organic farming. To improve production efficiency in agriculture IES researchers develop a new technology – smart weed-killing robot.
In summer of 2019, organic farming professionals from SIA “Tumes dārzeņi” set up an experimental garden located in Priekuļi municipality. Farmers selected different species: beetroot, melissa, marigold, dill, chives and soya. In the garden researchers tested the main modules of newly developed technology, e.g. computer vision RGB camera with artificial lights, rotating cutter, burner and a platform for autonomous and precise field navigation.
Researchers used RGB camera with artificial lights for detecting weeds and selected plant species. For weed termination two methods were tested – rotating cutter for mechanical termination and burner for thermal termination. As a platform for installing and moving robot modules, researchers chose a tractor equipped with a precise navigation system and autonomous control.
Currently, researchers are working on development of computer vision solution so the robot would be able to distinct weeds from the cultivated plants. First tests of weed-killing robot are planned to take place in spring and summer season of 2020.
More about the project here.