Anyone with a backyard garden will agree that weeds pose an annoying problem, but in the agriculture industry, the issue can be devastating. Farmers who struggle to manage their weed populations deal with tremendous losses in both crop yield and quality. Unchecked weeds not only steal water, light and nutrients from the crops, but they also provide shelter for pests and diseases. Without a proper management strategy in place, weeds limit a crop’s ability to grow and thrive.
Weed management can also be a fraught process. As regulations around chemical usage become increasingly stringent and labor shortages translate to smaller crews in the fields, farmers are left with fewer tools to eradicate their weed problems. Thankfully, agtech companies have stepped up to fill the gap.
One such innovator is BH Frontier Solutions Inc., a Canada-based robotics company. The electric-powered BHF Agrobot is their solution to highly efficient in-row and between-row weeding. What sets the BHF Agrobot apart from other autonomous weeding machines is its use of high-voltage electricity. When paired with state-of-the-art computer vision, the robot is able to quickly and efficiently identify and eliminate weeds.
It does this by searching for weeds as it travels through the field. When it detects one, the robot extends its electrodes and applies an electrical current directly to the foliage. The current is conducted downward into the roots. This Electric weeding solution™ has proven effective at killing early-, mid- and late-stage weeds.
BHF Agrobot was designed with flexibility in mind. The autonomous weeder boasts adjustable wheel spacing and bottom clearance to accommodate a variety of crops and crop bed designs. Its precision implement aims for in-row weeding and a high-efficiency implement is designed for weeding between the rows.
Farmers can even use BHF Agrobot for precision fertilizer applications. The autonomous machine places the input exactly where it needs to go, reducing fertilizer losses throughout the growing season and improving the use efficiency. Agrobot autonomously implements 4R practices—right source, right timing, right placement, right rate—while reducing an operation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Perhaps BHF Agrobot’s most impressive feature is its return on investment. With ultra-high precision crop treatment, the machine has been shown to improve agrochemical (pesticides, fungicide, liquid fertilizers) and water use efficiency up to 400 percent. By saving 85 percent on a farm’s annual weeding costs, users can expect payback within a year.