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Laser-Based Weeding Supports Sustainable Agriculture

Photonics.com
Aug 2017
BONN, Germany, Aug. 3, 2017 — A smart system for controlling invasive weed growth uses multispectral sensors and computer vision algorithms to detect and classify all plants in a field. After weeds are identified, a laser beam is used to eliminate or seriously damage the weeds. Sensing cameras are attached to an all-terrain robot or even a tractor add-on to find and target unwanted weeds.

“The robot shoots the leaves of the unwanted plants with short laser pulses, which causes a weakening in their vitality,” said University of Bonn researcher Julio Pastrana.

“It is thus predicted that we will no longer need to use herbicides on our fields and the environment will be protected,” added researcher Tim Wigbels.

Tim Wigbels (l) and Julio Pastrana (r) with laser-based weed detection system, University of Bonn.
Tim Wigbels (sitting) and Julio Pastrana demonstrate how their weed recognition software detects a plant and how the laser targets and damages its foliage. Courtesy of Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn.

Pastrana and Wigbels have founded Escarda Technologies to introduce their environmentally-friendly weed control system to the market.

Laser-based weeding offers a nonherbicide solution to weed control that could make it easier to produce certified organic products and lead to higher crop yields. In contrast to chemical-based weed control, the laser-based approach does not allow the weeds to develop tolerances, and its efficacy is not dependent on soil conditions.

“The idea combines innovative robots with a current sustainability topic,” said Rüdiger Wolf, a technology transfer advisor at the University of Bonn who helped the researchers secure funding for their startup. According to Wolf, the analyses of the market and competition for such an application are sound.

Pastrana is convinced of the benefits of the laser-based technique for use with agricultural machinery.

“Our aim is to contribute to achieving more sustainable agriculture,” he said.

Additional information is available at the Escarda Technologies website.  

BusinessResearch & TechnologyeducationcommercializationEuropeimaginglasersSensors & Detectorspulsed laserscamerassmart systemagriculture

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