Cro­p­lands au­ton­o­mous spray­ing New Hol­land tri­als meth­ane

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Cro­p­lands has en­abled farm­ers to per­form au­ton­o­mous op­ti­cal spot weed spray­ing by part­ner­ing with Au­tonoTrac to marry WeedIt tech­nol­ogy with Phan­tomDrive, a driver­less plat­form kit that can be added to cur­rent-model trac­tors with CVT trans­mis­sion.

The Aus­tralian-owned agri­cul­tural spray equip­ment man­u­fac­turer adopted the WeedIt tech­nol­ogy for lo­cal broad­acre con­di­tions more than five years ago, and says it is now im­prov­ing the her­bi­cide spray­ing ef­fi­ciency of many prop­er­ties here. The ben­e­fits, Cro­p­lands says, have been chem­i­cal sav­ings, com­bat­ing hard-to-kill weeds, low­er­ing weed seed banks and re­tain­ing soil mois­ture.

The WeedIt sen­sors de­tect weeds by recog­nis­ing liv­ing plants’ ac­tive chloro­phyll.

A sig­nal is then sent to a so­le­noid to ac­ti­vate the cor­rect noz­zle as it passes over the tar­get weed, which min­imises the amount of her­bi­cide that is ap­plied to bare ground.

The WeedIt Phan­tomDrive, as the com­bined tool­bar kit is called, can be ac­cessed re­motely on any smart phone, tablet or com­puter with in­ter­net ac­cess. It mon­i­tors both the trac­tor and sprayer and will alert the user to any is­sues with ei­ther.

It has weather sta­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties for mon­i­tor­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions at the site of ap­pli­ca­tion and the sys­tem will stop op­er­a­tion if pre­set weather pa­ram­e­ters are trig­gered.

The Cro­p­lands WeedIt Phan­tomDrive also in­cor­po­rates a col­li­sion avoid­ance sys­tem to elim­i­nate any ac­ci­dents on farm with peo­ple, an­i­mals or for­eign ob­jects.

Toowoomba-based Cro­p­lands north­ern re­gional man­ager Jeremy Ren­nick has been heav­ily in­volved in the project.

“Mak­ing the WeedIt au­ton­o­mous was the next log­i­cal step for us with this prod­uct and we see it suit­ing medium to large-scale farm­ers try­ing to get more ef­fi­ciency into their op­er­a­tion – ei­ther by giv­ing them­selves more time for other tasks around the farm or through bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of their ex­ist­ing work­force,” he says.

Plat­form creator Luke Sch­e­losky says the Phan­tomDrive as a truly au­ton­o­mous drive sys­tem.

“We un­der­stood that an au­ton­o­mous trac­tor by it­self is sim­ply a nov­elty, so we had to pro­vide a truly in­te­grated sys­tem that not only gives ex­cel­lent au­ton­o­mous per­for­mance but also mon­i­tors and works in con­junc­tion with the im­ple­ment,” he says.

“Things like an on-board weather sta­tion, SMS warn­ing sys­tem for both the trac­tor and im­ple­ment, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing, and the abil­ity to suc­cess­fully steer around ob­sta­cles in the pad­dock were all crit­i­cal in mak­ing the sys­tem a suc­cess.”

Cro­p­lands says that, weather con­di­tions per­mit­ting, the

WeedIt Phan­tomDrive can work 24 hours a day, with the op­tion to travel slower and im­prove chem­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tion tech­nique, while maximising a user’s hectares per day – “also elim­i­nat­ing ex­treme bore­dom for the op­er­a­tor, which can oc­cur when trav­el­ling around the same pad­dock at low speeds!”

Cro­p­lands launches au­ton­o­mous spot weed spray­ing kit The Cro­p­lands WeedIt Phan­tomDrive in ac­tion on a New Hol­land T7.200 trac­tor

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