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Robots may be suited to help kill weeds in strawberry fields

Through new research, University of Florida scientists Boyd and Schumann hope to eventually help strawberry growers combat weeds. Additionally, robots may replace tractors as the means for delivering the spray in the field. Getting rid of weeds is critical for growers in Florida’s $300 million-a-year strawberry industry.

The UF/IFAS researchers mount a smart spray system to a tractor-pulled sprayer, which uses the highly targeted process to spray only weeds. So far, they’re killing up to 90% of the weeds. Precise spraying depends on many factors, including the types of weeds that scientists target and the speed of the tractor that sprays the weeds, Boyd, a UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences, told tampafp.com.

While the research remains in the preliminary stages, Boyd wants to reduce the amount of herbicide spray strawberry growers use. That saves farmers money and helps cut unwanted chemicals from getting into the environment.

Asked for cost-savings estimates, Boyd gave this example: If you shoot low and anticipate a grower using an inexpensive herbicide that costs $30 per acre and you drop the amount of spray by 50%, you save $15 per acre.

Photo source: UF/IFAS 


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