American farmers will soon be able to buy smart weed sprayers that promise to significantly reduce the use of farm chemicals.
Israel-based Greeneye Technology is planning to sell the sprayers powered by artifical intelligence in the US beginning in 2022. The equipment, which attaches to tractors, can identify some 200 different plants and apply chemicals only on the ones that need it. It could lower herbicide volumes by up to 90%, according to Nadav Bocher, chief executive officer of the startup.
“Farmers are running out of options for crop protection,” Bocher said.
Companies are looking for new solutions to rid farms of weeds. For decades, farmers have been blanketing crops with herbicides like Roundup, which won’t kill corn and soybeans that have been genetically modified to survive it. But recently, some superweeds are also becoming resistant, which is hurting yields. The smart sprayers allow farmers to specifically target the invasive plants and dramatically reduce use of chemicals.
While other companies, including the largest machinery maker Deere & Co, have been developing similar technology, Bocher said Greeneye, whose investors include agriculture supplier Syngenta Group, is the only one to offer equipment that could be installed on existing tractors.
The smart sprayers come as farm input costs such as fertiliser and chemicals have soared and as machinery parts have been hard to get due to snags in the supply chain. Greeneye so far has piloted the technology on corn and soybean farms in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.
“We’re ready to move from controlled lab conditions to real field deployment,” Bocher said in a phone interview. – Bloomberg