Can you imagine a sprayer that identifies weeds and decides on the most appropriate chemical and rate to apply?

Bayer and Bosch have teamed up to apply herbicide where it is needed and nowhere else. Both companies have entered into a three-year research project to develop ‘Smart Spaying Technology’. The technology is claimed to make the application of plant protection products more efficient.

Bosch is investigating the use of sensor technology, smart analytics and selective spray systems. Bayer is providing information it has gained from Geographical Information Systems (GIS), such as the development of algorithms used for agronomical decision making, integrated pest management, formulation and application technologies.

The technology uses camera sensors to identify weeds growing in a field. Current systems which are being used can only identify green plants; they cannot differentiate between weeds and the growing crop.

How it works

Before entering the crop a digital ‘Field Manager’ assesses the field and recommends the optimum timing for treating the weeds. Weeds are identified and the application of the suitable plant protection product is carried out in one pass of the sprayer.

The process:

  • Cameras are positioned across the sprayer boom and take continuous pictures of the surface below;
  • Weeds are identified;
  • Quantity and mix of spray is decided;
  • Appropriate weeds are sprayed;
  • Weed-free areas are left unsprayed;
  • The whole process takes seconds.

Björn Kiepe, head of agronomy in Digital Farming at Bayer, stated that the sprayer can work extremely accurately on an area of less than 1m.

Smart Spraying constitutes a quantum leap in weed control. We are combining state-of-the-art weed detection technology with the means of applying different agents on a case-by-case basis – and extremely accurately on an area of less than 1m.

The system also alternates active ingredients and uses the herbicide with the greatest efficiency in order to prevent resistance to chemicals.

The research project is for three years, so we might see the technology by 2020.