Weeding Robots: Could AI Replace Herbicide? - Gardening Know How
02.11.2023 - 08:15
/ Mary Ellen Ellis
Vehicles are going autonomous, so why not weeding machines? Weeding robots are real, and some farms have already put them to use. These autonomous weed killers should reduce labor costs for farms, many of which are experiencing labor shortages. Robots could also be important in reducing the use of harmful chemicals in agriculture.
A robot weeder is exactly what it sounds like: a machine that does the work of removing or killing weeds. It is an autonomous vehicle that moves through fields selectively eliminating weeds.
There are several ways a robot can deal with weeds. Types of weeders are based on how they destroy the weeds and by the crops they are designed to work around.
According to research, human labor often makes up more than 50% of a farm’s costs. Initially, at least, it will probably only provide a return on investment for large farms. One robot weeder currently in use in some locations — the Dino made by French company Naio Technologies — costs $120,000.
Farmers have to deal with weeds somehow. They compete with crops for light, water, and nutrients. Weeds account for the largest losses to crops on farms worldwide. Pulling weeds by hand is labor-intensive and costly.
Saving on labor costs is just one important benefit of adding weeding robots to farms. Robots could also help reduce reliance on chemical herbicides. Herbicides harm the environment and people. And, many of the most widely used herbicides are losing effectiveness. Weeds are evolving to tolerate them.
Robot weeding is poised to revolutionize agriculture, but could it also be used on a smaller scale by home gardeners? It seems likely that home models will become available as the agricultural models become more technologically advanced and less costly.
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