Smart spraying – precision herbicide application on weeds
Herbicides secure crop yields, but its heavy use today is being reconsidered based on a greater understanding of its environmental impact. Using cameras and artificial intelligence, our smart spraying technology identifies weeds and sprays herbicides only where needed. This technical innovation enables a profitable and sustainable agricultural production.
As the world’s population grows, the amount of arable land available per capita is decreasing. Farmers will have to produce around 50 percent more yield by 2050 to feed the global population.
additional crop yield needed by 2050 to feed global population
Reinventing the field sprayer
To solve these challenges, agriculture needs technical innovations. When it comes to high-volume crops to feed the global population, farmers depend on high acreage outputs along with affordable investments. Therefore, we have to reinvent classical agricultural machines so that farmers can use them in an environmentally friendly way.
Protecting plants and the environment
One major challenge in agriculture is plant protection. The herbicides that have ensured plentiful yields from crops until now have been overused, causing herbicide resistant weeds and a massive decline in biodiversity.
We have to find ways to reduce the use of herbicides dramatically. Our goal is that herbicides are only used where they are really needed – the right herbicide, at the right place, in the right amount.
Weeds are difficult to identify because they are so small – especially in their early stages of growth when herbicide application takes place.
We designed a smart spraying technology that uses cameras and artificial intelligence. Our system knows when it sees plants and when it sees weeds, then selectively applies herbicides where needed.
How does it work? First, we record images with cameras that cover the entire operating range of the sprayer. Then, we use classic deep learning algorithms for computer vision to recognize the different plants in the field and distinguish between weeds and crops. Finally, the software automatically selects the type of herbicide to spray, signaling the sprayer where to work.
Our system detects and sprays based on the image it captures in the blink of an eye – roughly how long it takes the nozzle to reach the point where the camera previously recorded the image of the weed.
The rapid speed of the process allows a farmer to apply the agents in a single sweep, critical for applying the herbicide within its small window of opportunity. Additionally, there is great potential for saving on herbicide costs with our technology, since the herbicide is selectively applied.
The focus on preparing for future population growth while protecting the environment and reducing costs for farmers and food production are reasons why Bosch innovations are “Invented for Life.”
- time limit to recognize a weed and spray it
- herbicide volumes reduction in experimental stage thanks to Smart Spraying
Joint venture for digital technologies in the agricultural sector
Smart Spraying will be one of the first products to be launched within the 50:50 joint venture of Bosch and BASF Digital Farming. Bosch brings to the joint venture significant capability in hardware and software, as well as digital services. BASF Digital Farming with its xarvio™ Digital Farming Solutions provides an automated, real-time, field specific agronomic decision-making engine for weed management that is powered by the digital xarvio platform for crop optimization. The Smart Spraying solution combines Bosch’s camera sensor technology and software with xarvio’ s crop optimization platform. Such innovative precision farming practices enable resource efficiencies supporting farmers and the environment.
Bosch smart spraying technology uses cutting edge technologies to discretely apply herbicide on weeds without spraying unaffected areas of crops. Sustainable technical innovations like these are critical to ensuring a plentiful global food supply for future generations.
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