Cambridge Consultants has developed an eco-friendly spray technology that cuts agricultural use of chemicals by more than 99%, helping farmers save costs and also protect the environment. The new technology, which makes use of a camera attached to the tractor, is able to identify and target specific plants and pests.
As the world population keeps on growing, more mouths need to be fed. Researchers predict that by 2050, an additional two billion people are in need of food. This challenges the agribusiness to do more with less to meet the demand for increased food production. At the same time, more and more pressure is put on farmers to cut the amount of chemicals used on crops for environmental reasons.
To help the agricultural sector reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture, product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants developed a new spray technology. The new technology consists of a targeted droplet dispensing set and is expected to cut the use of chemicals – weed killer, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides – by more than 99%. This will help the farmers cut costs, while also protects the environment.
How does it work?
Cambridge Consultants has developed a technology that can identify and target a specific leaf or bug from a height of 50cm. To achieve this, a camera is attached on a tractor’s spray boom. This camera ‘looks ahead’ and uses shape, size and colour to identify targets, which are tracked as the vehicle approaches. The technology calculates the path and speed to identify the position and timing details for the dispensing system, which triggers the dispense regulator.
“Just like clay pigeon shooting, the system has to ‘lead’ the target – the droplet has to be fired up to 50cm before the boom passes over the target,” explains Niall Mottram, Head of Agrifood Product Development at Cambridge Consultants.
“The droplet travels at five metres per second and takes one tenth of a second to hit the target. At full speed, the target passes under the nozzle in about three milliseconds. By targeting only specific foreign leaves or pests, the amount of chemicals dispensed is dramatically reduced – with drift and run-off virtually eliminated.” According to Mottram, the new technology will have beneficiary effects on the environment. “The reduction of run-off is particularly crucial for the environment as it helps prevent ground water pollution by chemical pesticides.”