New York State IPM Program

Weeding Robot!

Today’s post is from our Integrated Weed Management Specialist, Bryan Brown.

Bryan can be found at our main office in Geneva

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Many of us love gardening. But not many of us enjoy weeding. Robots to the rescue!

Franklin Robotics has built a robot to control weeds and they sent us one of their prototypes for initial testing before it hits the market. Their robot, Tertill, moves around the garden with a string-trimmer (a.k.a. weedwacker) that cuts up small weeds while its sensor allows it to move around your larger, planted flowers or vegetables. Its wheels are also designed to dislodge small weeds.

While this robot is designed for small gardens, larger robots are also being developed for farms. As farmers face labor shortages and herbicide-resistant weeds, robotic weeders could help alleviate these challenges. Several companies are taking very different approaches in their designs. One model undercuts weed roots, another punches small weeds into the ground, and a third places a drop of herbicide on the weed’s growing point.

Most of these robots are still in the development stage. In testing out the Tertill, we see that it has great potential, but as you can see in the video, there are some weeds that it misses. We’ll suggest that the designers raise the crop sensors while lowering the weed trimmer so that it controls a wider range of weeds. Hopefully after these tweaks it will be ready for prime time!

Involved in this project are:

Bryan Brown, Integrated Weed Management Specialist, NYSIPM, Cornell University

Kristine Averill, Research Associate, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University

Antonio DiTommaso, Professor and Chair, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University

Scott Morris, Research Technician, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University

 

 

Author: Debra E. Marvin

Community IPM Program Assistant for Schools, Daycare and Horticulture. New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, 630 W. North Street, Geneva, NY 14456 Email: dem35@cornell.edu

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