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A full-size farm sprayer which uses artificial intelligence to reduce herbicide usage by 78% has been sold commercially for the first time. Artificial intelligence cuts spray usage by 78%

A full-size farm sprayer which uses artificial intelligence to reduce herbicide usage by 78% has been sold commercially for the first time.

Developed by agritech pioneer Greeneye Technology, the AI-enabled precision sprayer was sold to a farm business in Israel. Roll-out is set to follow in North America in early 2022, with Europe coming later.

The company says the machine can detect and spray weeds within crops – green on green – with 95.7% accuracy. It marks a major milestone in its mission to reduce chemical usage while increasing farm productivity and profitability.

Greeneye says it already has a long waiting list of customers into 2023. When available in the USA, the machine will be initially aimed at maize and soybean farmers in the Midwest, before increasing availability to other states. 

Backed by global agrochemical manufacturer Syngenta, Israeli-based Greeneye Technology says its system integrates seamlessly into any brand or size of commercial sprayer, removing the need for farmers to invest in new machines.

It also ensures that precision spraying can be carried out at the same travel speed as broadcast spraying – 20kmh – ensuring no reduction in productivity.

Greeneye Technology chief executive Nadav Bocher said: “Weeds represent one of the greatest threats to global crop production – in the US alone, they are estimated to cost farmers more than $33bn in lost production annually.”

Farmers frequently addressed this challenge by spraying herbicides across entire fields – even though weed infestations may be as low as 10%, said Mr Bocher. This meant farmers spent more and sprayed more than they really needed.

Despite efforts to develop precision spraying technologies, few projects had moved beyond the trial phase. This is because the technology either failed to deliver the necessary accuracy and efficacy, or were prohibitively expensive.

Commercially-viable

Mr Bocher said: “Greeneye’s solution overcomes both of these challenges, offering farmers what we believe is the most advanced commercially-viable precision spraying technology on the market.”

Greeneye’s solution uses a combination of hardware and deep machine learning to enable intelligent, real-time weed management decisions in the field. Cameras mounted directly onto spraying machines capture images at a rate of 40 frames per second

This enables rapid detection and classification of weeds down to the species level. The system instantly calculates the amount of herbicide required and sprays it directly onto the weeds, leaving nearby crops unaffected.

Read more about developments in technology and innovation, read about the upcoming CropTec Event.