Using the “WeedSeeker®” Spot Spraying Technology Cropping Systems
Crop and weed sensing technology has existed as a research tool in Australia since 1984. The concept was originally developed by researcher Warwick Felton at the DPI Tamworth. The reliable application of the concept in agriculture has only recently been possible with the commercial release of ‘Weedseeker’ and “Greenseeker” selective application equipment by US based company N-Tech Industries.
Selective spot spraying technology was commercialised in the USA seven years ago and has found wide commercial application around the globe in all types of agricultural environments. Sensors can be used to selectively apply herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers and fungicides to plants in a wide range of agricultural situations including cotton, broadacre, horticulture and viticulture. Merrilong Pastoral Company at Spring Ridge in northern NSW imported the first 64 Weedseeker sensors for broadacre use into Australia in 2002 using matching grant money provided by AFFA under the “Farm Innovation Program”.
Anywhere a product can be targeted to the plant and not bare soil, the WeedSeeker® can provide large savings and big environmental benefits.
DPI research in Northern NSW has shown that average weed cover in fallow paddocks is as low as 20% of the paddock area. This means that often 80% of the herbicide applied falls on bare soil and is wasted. This is inefficient, expensive and environmentally unstainable.
There are now 13 commercial spray-rigs across NSW and Qld operated by both farmers and contractors achieving large reductions in fallow herbicide use and savings of 80% and better.