Farmers could cut their herbicide usage by 90 per cent with the next generation of camera weed spray technology.
Launched for eastern Australia commercially last week at Beefwood near Moree NSW, the Agrifac AiCPlus optical spray system uses RGB camera technology to recognise and identify weeds in a paddock, slashing chemical use by ensuring herbicides are only applied to the weeds within a fallow paddock, commonly known as 'green on brown' spot spray technology.
What sets the Agrifac machine apart from its predecessors WeedSeeker and WEEDit is a series of proprietary algorithms, developed by French company Bilberry, which have the potential to move the sprayer into 'green on green' identification, essentially being able to pick key weeds by shape out of a green cropped paddock so they can be spot sprayed.
Agrifac director Roeland Coopman said the AiCPlus was a step toward what the company called 'need farming'.
"This is a step away from precision farming, need farming includes exact dosage, spraying with task maps and drones, spot spraying on the go and connected machinery," he said.
"We are taking care of plants on an individual basis, we need to go back to farming how we did years ago, take care of the individual instead of the entire field.
"We believe the climate is changing, the weather is changing and the customer is changing."
Mr Coopman said in Europe, regulation and consumer demand was driving supermarkets towards farmer suppliers with a lower chemical footprint.
"The AiCPlus is a game changer, it's disruptive," he said.
Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative and Pulse Australia northern region agronomist Paul McIntosh said he believed the AiCPlus was the next step in optical weed technology.
"The potential to go green on green is a real draw card for our cropping areas, particularly in our pulse rotations where it would allow the control of key grass weeds without putting herbicide on the bulk of the crop," he said.
"Obviously there is a cost saving aspect to reducing herbicide, but there is also a benefit in gaining a pesticide-free or pesticide-reduced status for our export grain in terms of markets."
Mr McIntosh said the technology would be another tool to control and prevent herbicide resistant weed populations.
"The key to managing herbicide resistance is ensuring there are no survivors from any herbicide application, this technology enables that," he said.
Beefwood owner Gerrit Kurstjens said he had trialled the AiCPlus for two years.
"It has come a long way, there has been enormous improvements," he said.
"There have been one or two people here constantly, conducting testing and working with experts based in Paris, sending files through to Agrifac in Holland.
"In my opinion the technology is very promising."
Over seventy farmers and agronomists attended the field day at Beefwood.
Dulacca Qld farmer and spray contractor, Matt Pye said he travelled down to take a look at the Agrifac's offering and compare it to the WeedIt technology.
"Being a contractor with a WeedIt myself, I wanted to see what the latest technology is all about," he said.
"I want to see if we can get in front of the technology and decide what the next best thing is going to be."
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Click here to sign up to receive our daily Farmonline newsletter.
If you also want to be part of the conversation, join FarmOnline - Rural Connections on Facebook here.