useful for red-leafed lettuces or yellowish crops in low-
nitrogen environments and allows precise row control. A
self-learning function prevents colour differences from
affecting camera-guided control. The camera collects
data for guidance from 15 rows of crops. In optimal
conditions, the camera corrects row control at ground
speeds of up to 15 km/h.
The IC-Weeder is an automatic hoe which uses camera
images to calculate the position of cultivated plants
and then hoe around them. It uses standard hoeing
blades between rows and pneumatically controlled
sickle-shaped blades to hoe between plants within rows.
The cameras are located under a hood to shield them
against ambient light for precise plant recognition and
the detection area is lit by LED lights. The cameras
cover a 75-cm field of view, with both the colour and
size of cultivated plants and the expected plant position
being used to determine the distance between plants.
The maximum working width is 8 m and the maximum
operating speed is 3.5 km/h. Optional LED work lights
are available to illuminate the field of vision and enable
high-precision work at night.
In the manual control version, there is a seat provided
at the rear of the hoe for manual steering from which a
second operator can guide the hoe using a joystick. Row
control can also be corrected via GPS.
The Steketee finger weeder is specially designed to
control small and just emerged weeds in the crop row.
In-crop mechanical weeding (by means of weeder
blades, cultivation tines, ridger blades) is a long standing
practice. But a much higher percentage of the land can
be mechanically cleaned from weeds with the finger
weeder in combination with a weeder element. It is
easily mountable and replaceable. The length, width and
height are all adjustable. The finger weeder consists of
a turning disc with flexible fingers on it. These flexible
fingers turn in between the crop row and destroy smaller
weeds. It is also possible to replace the disc with flexible
fingers with a disc with brush fingers. The depth and
width control can be infinitely adjusted for a higher or
lower operation intensity. The Steketee finger weeder is
suitable for weeding at high speeds. The hooded sprayer
is dual purpose, allowing chemical application to sugar
beet, chicory and carrot crops, for instance.
TJ O'Shea from O Shea Farms, Piltown, Co Kilkenny,
purchased in 2018 a Garford Robocrop InRow Weeder
automatic hoe, like the Steketee IC-Weeder.
It uses video image analysis techniques to locate
individual plants in order to mechanically remove weeds
from the inter row and within the crop row between the
plants. TJ indicates that this automated hoe is useful for
weed control in carrots, parsnips and brassicas such as
cabbage and turnips where loss of chemicals for weed
control is problematic. Moreover, it facilitates reduction
in chemical inputs.
The soil action of the hoe is useful to break up encrusted
soil which usually gives a further bonus by increasing
mineralisation of nutrients in the soil which leads to
improved growth. TJ uses the machine to bandspray
pesticides/herbicides along the crop row while
mechanically hoeing inter-row.
TJ availed of a 40 per cent grant for the machine from
the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of
the Commercial Horticulture Sector. This grant aids
capital investments in specialised plant and equipment
in the horticulture sector. This equipment will be most
beneficial for the horticulture and organic sectors
initially but will also be of interest to tillage farmers with
beet, potatoes and maize.