Trends in crop protection technology

Intelligent spray technology at Agritechnica


Intelligent spray technology at Agritechnica


Drone produced weed maps, further development of nozzle technologies and larger lighter booms are some of the trends experts are predicting in crop protection technology.

Agritechnica, the worlds largest agricultural technology exhibition opens in Hanover, Germany next week, with almost half a million visitors from across the globe expected to attend.

The biennial event showcases the latest innovations in technology across its 2700 exhibits while also hosting a series of forums and presentations focused on machinery and technology trends.

In a report produced for this year's Agritechnica, North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Agriculture crop protection specialist Harald Kramer said crop protection technologies used to control weeds and pests were moving forward at a rapid pace towards intelligent systems which relied on sensor technology.

"First of all, it is necessary to know the situation in the field," he said.

"In the recent past, there was a desire for real-time solutions that carried out all necessary tasks during a single pass across the field, however, there are now approaches for creating application maps beforehand with the help of drones.

"These systems have the major advantage the exact treatment area can be calculated. Then, the exact volume of spray can be mixed, eliminating any residual quantities that could cause disposal difficulties.

"In addition, more complex and more exact sensors can be used for detection, as only one sensor is required on the drone."

"Even more exact crop protection is possible if the sprayer boom has section control to allowing individual nozzles or groups of nozzles to be turned on and off based on the application map."

Mr Kramer said intelligent crop protection technologies were also focusing on environmental monitoring and outcomes.

"Documentation to support the legal application of crop protection products has the potential to provide the greatest benefit to farmers," he said.

"Combined processing systems can make a major contribution to reducing crop protection agents, for example optimised, high-performance band spraying systems, combined with inter-row hoes."

Mr Kramer said nozzle technology continued to improve, however warned while drift reduction was important, the technology also needed to maintain good application of the crop protection agents.

"Similar consideration should be given in the context of applications made using reduced water quantities or increased driving speeds," he said.

"The main objective should be to apply the required quantity of active ingredient with sufficient water, particularly if the product needs to penetrate the crop canopy."

Mr Kramer said pulse-width modulation nozzles in particular required further development.

"However, now systems are turning up that reliably work with frequencies from 20 to 100 Hertz and allow various possibilities to be realised," he said.

"In addition to curve compensation and spot spraying, application quantities can also be varied."

Mr Kramer said by de-coupling technologies farmers could have access to multiple modes of control.

"The combination of mechanical weed control and band spraying technology, for example, offers an immense potential for savings on crop protection agents, resistance management and so on," he said.

"Improved forecast models, closely linked to application technology with improved sensors, application maps and nozzle technologies, can further improve arable cropping and make it more sustainable for the future."

Mr Kramer said farmers were actively looking for solutions that increased crop protection performance and efficiency and this was driving market trends.

"With continually increasing farm sizes, performance increases continue to have a high priority when purchasing new sprayers," he said.

"Large sprayer tank volumes continue to be importance when making purchasing decisions. Volumes considerably more than 10,000 litres are now not uncommon, and are considered by many as an important step towards increased performance without moving immediately to a self-propelled sprayer."

Mr Kramer said another trend was towards lighter machinery, driven by variable soil types, erratic weather conditions fuel use.

"For all the ever-faster and larger technology, farmers must continue to be aware of the requirements for tractors with regard to axle loads, especially with front-tank systems, permissible total weights, and so on," he said.

"Sprayer boom assembly stability makes another significant contribution to sprayer choice. This is a basic requirement for the uniform application of the crop protection product, and can also be a limiting factor with regards to driving speed."

Mr Kramer said ultimately crop protection technology was moving towards precision.

"At the end of the day, all these technologies have the same goal, only applying as much crop protection product as is needed, as accurately as possible, to implement a comprehensive integrated crop protection plan."


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