John Deere has been pursuing the concept of applying herbicides directed by target recognition cameras for several years now, and so far it has achieved some success with its See and Spray application system.

See and Spray works by what John Deere refers to as ‘green on brown’ identification. This refers to the spotting of green weeds on brown soil, which is a matter of colour recognition rather than picking out weeds by shape or size.

Multiple cameras

The company claims great success in the US with reductions of up to 66% in herbicide application, and it has now released the system in Europe.

See and Spray john deere
When green is detected where there should be none, the nozzles are triggered to spray the offending plant

The cameras and other hardware components are integrated directly into the boom or chassis of the machine. One camera is mounted per metre of working width, which locates the green weeds.

Once the software recognises a plant, the appropriate nozzle or nozzles are triggered individually for spot or restricted area treatment.

Pre-emergence and beyond

The green detection on the field soil enables a targeted application of pre-emergence herbicides. John Deere tells us that all weeds visible to the eye are detected by their system.

Green on brown suggests that the system is only suitable for pre-emergence treatment, yet the company disagrees, saying that it can also be used in row crops after emergence.

Self propelled sprayer john deere canopy
See and Spray can be used right up until closure of the crop canopy

The crop rows themselves can be can be identified by the sprayer and thus the weeds between the rows may then be targeted for treatment.

This is possible at all stages and for all row crops right up until the canopy closes, allowing the grower an additional treatment by See and Spray in the growing crop and so extending its window of use.

Thorough testing for See and Spray

The system has undergone extensive trials under different conditions. It has already been tested on about 120,000ha worldwide.

John Deere claims that the success in application is comparable to broadcast spray, but with a saving of up to two thirds of consumption, a figure that has been replicated in Europe, giving Deere the confidence to go ahead with its launch this year at SIMA.

See and Spray Select is already sold as an option with the self-propelled sprayers in the US. These machines will be the first on the market in central Europe this year.

From early 2023, it will be available on a limited basis for the European R900i series trailed sprayers with 36m and 39m booms, and will then be offered as an option for various John Deere sprayers from Horst in the future.