Ag-Tech system is spot on

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  • New ‘See and Spray’ spot sprayer developed by Taylor Technologies
  • System designed to identify and target grassland weeds

A young Scottish entrepreneur has developed an automated spot sprayer which uses a “See & Spray” system to identify and target destructive grassland weeds.

Colin Taylor of Lanark-based Taylor Technologies says that his innovative RUMEXTM system enables farmers to use less herbicide, increase grass yields and save money.

Combining cameras, computers and AI software fitted to a standard crop sprayer, this development can spot weeds as the sprayer moves across the field, with on-board computers analysing the camera feeds.

The automated system controls the sprayer to apply a measured, targeted dose of chemicals to every weed spotted. The GPS position of each treated weed is recorded and mapped, enabling detailed data to be retained for analysis.

All this takes place in real-time, with no input required from an operator.

The system is mainly focused upon Docks but does recognise other common weeds such as nettles and thistles.

The idea for the system came about in 2017, whilst Colin was talking with a neighbouring dairy farmer. They discussed the effect that the herbicide has on the grass itself. The farmer stated, “It kills the weeds but it also stunts the grass – not to mention it’s expensive.” At that time, Computer-vision and Artificial intelligence, the technologies at the heart of the system, were becoming more widespread and easier to implement for novel use cases.

“I saw that we could take the technology that is notably used for facial recognition and self-driving cars, and re-purpose it to spot weeds,” says Colin. “Combining this with electronic control of a sprayer would mean that we could automatically spot-spray weeds, only activating the sprayer when the weeds are there.” “The result is that now, the sprayer is off for the majority of time that it goes across the field. This is the complete opposite of how fields are normally sprayed.”

“The herbicides don’t need to be applied to the entire field, just the weeds. Spot-spraying results in massive reductions of quantities of chemicals used.

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