What would it be like if large-scale farming were possible without harmful herbicides, without small-scale manual labor? That’s what Escarda, one of our exciting corporate investments, is working on. Its concept is to use sophisticated imaging and intelligent data processing to identify and distinguish between crops and weeds. This data is used to control a laser that destroys the weeds in a targeted manner.
The funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) will give the idea further momentum in a joint project with industry partners. Escarda is responsible for image capture and processing. The challenge: The system has to reliably decide between fruit and weeds in a matter of seconds while the robot moves across the field.
Sugarbeet is cultivated in the test field. These are not particularly assertive. The crop can be quickly displaced in the field by competition from weeds. Conventional farming therefore uses questionable herbicides, while organic farming uses hand plucking or hoeing machines. However, weeds that are too close to the crop cannot be removed in this way. Sugarbeet is therefore the ideal test object to explore Escarda’s new way of weed control.
Lumics is on board to answer questions about the optimal laser. The team is developing a turnkey laser system in the wavelength combination of 980/1470/1940nm according to requirements of the collaborative partner Laser Zentrum Hannover, who investigates the laser properties for weed control. The robustness of the laser system faces particular challenges. In the field, it is exposed to harsh conditions caused by dirt, moisture, heat and the vibration load of the agricultural machine.
We wish all those involved every success!