John Deere have unveiled the next iteration of spraying technology to enable targeted treatment of non-residual herbicide on weeds, with the limited release of See & SprayTM Ultimate.
In Australia last year, Deere released See & SprayTM Select, a ground-breaking targeted spray solution for weeds in fallow ground, otherwise known as “Green on Brown” spraying. However, the latest release of See & SprayTM Ultimate, designed by Deere subsidiary company, Blue River Technology, provides “Green on Green” spraying, targeting green weeds in green crop. For now, See & SprayTM Ultimate will only be available in the US on model year 2023 John Deere 410R, 412R and 612R sprayers with the new system anticipated to be available in the Australian region over the next few years. AFGRI precision ag manager Josh Bracken said See & Spray technologies are here to stay and will become a staple of the precision ag tools available to farmers to help improve efficiency and productivity. “It’s incredible to see how quickly the technology has advanced, moving from broadcast spraying to individual nozzle control with ExactApplyTM and now to targeting individual plants via artificial intelligence and machine learning, all in a relatively short time,” Josh said. “With the reductions in herbicide use throughout the whole season it can offer, when it does become available in the Australian region, See & Spray UltimateTM will be a game-changer for our customers.”
Like See & SprayTM Select, the technology uses computer vision and machine learning to scan the field constantly, to find weeds amongst the crop and then sprays only the weeds. See & SprayTM Ultimate uses cameras and processors mounted on the boom with one camera mounted every metre across the width of the boom. This equates to 36 cameras on a 36-metre (120-foot) boom scanning more than 195 square metres at once. As the boom goes across the field, the cameras are constantly collecting high resolution images. Those images are sent to the graphics processing unit that houses the machine learning model, which determines if there’s a weed present or not. If there’s a weed present, the spray is turned on to spray that individual weed. The technology operates at up to 19 kilometres per hour, which can lead to reducing non-residual herbicide use in season by more than two thirds, while maintaining a hit rate comparable to traditional spraying. This in turn, significantly lowers input costs and reduce the number of passes and refills allowing the operator to cover more hectares per day.
The boom itself is something to discuss as well – it uses a new truss-style carbon fibre boom as well as the all new industry-leading BoomTracTM Ultimate. BoomTracTM Ultimate uses sensors across the boom to detect changes in the terrain. It then automatically adjusts the boom height on the go to keep a consistent height, maintaining a 250-millimetre (10-inch) band on the tip of the boom, 95 percent of the time. This accuracy means there will be better quality images collected by See & Spray Ultimate, leading to better weed detection and consistent application of those weeds.
See & SprayTM Ultimate also offers a dual tank solution – two independent tank mixes to simultaneously broadcast and target spray weeds at the same time on the same pass. A common spraying setup would be to broadcast a residual herbicide to prevent future weed growth, while target spraying weeds that have already emerged with a non-residual herbicide. Another example, the dual tank solution means other chemicals such as insecticide, fungicide or fertiliser can be broadcast sprayed while separately target spraying with herbicide. Farmers can also broadcast two solutions at the same time or just target spray one solution on the go. By splitting the tank mixes into two separate production solution systems, farmers can get better weed control and allows more to be done in the one pass.
See & SprayTM is also equipped with a JDLinkTM modem, which streams the application data of both machine and agronomic, to a customer’s John Deere Operations Center. As See & SprayTM Ultimate moves through the field, it documents as applied data for both broadcast and target spray. This information becomes available on Operations Center in close to real time. Once the data is in Operations Center, a number of data analysis tools are available to the farmer such as viewing field maps to visually determine the amount of chemical savings achieved in a field while also helping them make informed decisions for future applications.
John Deere AU/NZ production system manager Ben Kelly said it will take time for See & SprayTM Ultimate to be available for Australian farmers. “While the initial results being seen in the US are extremely impressive and we understand that in-crop weed control is a priority for Australian farmers, it is going to take time to iterate and scale this technology into local regions,” Mr Kelly said. “For Australian farmers, the exciting news is that the first of the See & SprayTM Select equipped sprayers are arriving right now. “These were launched in limited quantities last year but will be widely available to order in mid-2022.”
For more information about See & SprayTM Select, contact your local AFGRI Equipment branch or visit our website, www.afgri.com.au today