By vast

Published: May 27, 2019

Category: Glyphosate Controversy, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

Weeds remain the largest culprit in farmers’ yield losses. Herbicides sprayed on genetically modified crops worked magically for a while, but resistant weeds have evolved, requiring use of even more toxic chemicals.

Tech companies are turning to weeding robots. At Betteravia Farms (California and Arizona), Dylan Bognuda oversees operation of five automated weeders to help keep 900 acres of organic crops weed-free. The weeders are tractor extensions, not robots. Recently Bognuda employed Dino, a self-driving robot weeder made by French company Naio Technologies—it follows GPS coordinates gathered from data on field and row dimensions, cutting through weeds. Twenty-seven “Dinos” are operating in EU countries and Canada.

Another robot, Oz, weeds one row at a time and is designed for small farmers. Not using pesticides, Naio’s weeders are suitable for organic farmers.

Bognuda says autonomous weeders could lower the cost of weeding from $1000 to $200 per acre. Dino’s drawback is its $120,000 price tag. In addition, Dino can’t weed the spaces between plants. San Francisco-based Farmwise has developed one that weeds inside rows; it’s partnering with Detroit auto company Roush, a self-driving car manufacturer.

The EU has committed 80 billion euros for robotic weeders.

Source: The New Food Economy

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