First-to-market vision guided mechanical hoe seen at Agritechnica

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The first vision guided mechanical weeding system made its debut at Agritechnica 2023.

Utilising high resolution cameras, the brand-new Robocrop Spot Hoe engages the hoeing blades to selectively remove weeds when they are detected, which are then disengaged after removal.

Manufacturer Garford Farm Machinery claims the system helps conserve moisture in dryland farming systems. It also saves fuel, as the energy required will be reduced in non-weed population areas. “With a focus on the increasing adoption of more sustainable production systems, the Robocrop Spot Hoe is the only system on the market to offer selective hoeing capability, based on locally sensed interrow weed density,” explains Allan Knight, Garford Farm Machinery’s technical sales and marketing manager.

When the timing of operation does not suit a continuous hoeing operation, Robocrop Spot Hoe also enables farmers to automate the selective weeding of crops mechanically.

Garford believes that as conservation and regenerative agriculture policy adoption improves the soils of highly productive arable farmland, so the demand for selective mechanical weed control will increase.

“The Robocrop Spot Hoe leverages multiple technical layers, packaging them together to enable a machine to do a weeding job in a way not previously achievable or available on the market,” adds Mr Knight.

High capacity hoe bound for UK

Also on display was the Robocrop Interrow 12NT, Garford claims it offers a new level of hoeing capacity, providing productivity levels previously only seen in North America.

A twin shift system allows the high capacity interrow machine to follow 2 x 6m drill sections, allowing double the productivity of a 6m tractor-mounted hoe. The system can be transported under 3m wide and 4m in height, and is compatible with 3m controlled traffic systems in the field.

Garford suggests the innovation is in the machine configuration. It incorporates new wheel units that retract for transport folding, and a multi-stage variable volume accumulator, which enables unit raising for headland section control in irregular shaped fields.

The system also incorporates a telescopic axle for conversion from field mode to transport mode, while a hydrostatic powered axle ensures mobility meets or exceeds 6m tractor-mounted hoe systems, and a rear 3-point hitch provides the option for the coupling of a 12m tine weeder.

“Twin section Robocrop vision guidance is integrated, making the Robocrop Interrow 12NT a truly no-compromise high performance hoeing package. Collectively the machine enables a new level of productivity for organic producers, as well as large-scale conventional farmers transitioning to sustainable integrated weed management practices,” says Mr Knight.

“With increasingly stringent regulations over the use of chemical weed controls, particularly within the UK and Europe, the use of hoeing and mechanical weeding solutions is becoming an even more vital tool for the farmer,” explains Allan Knight, Garford Farm Machinery’s technical sales and marketing manager.

“These two new introductions add another dimension to help boost productivity capabilities and support environmental credentials, as agricultural policy makers across the world increasingly look to adopt more sustainable solutions to weed control, in both conventional and organic systems,” he adds.

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