Robocrop InRow Weeder

Garford Farm Machinery honoured with Queen’s Award

Posted on: March 10th 2010    •    Posted in: Company News

Garford Farm Machinery, a Lincolnshire based farm machinery manufacturer, are delighted to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category. Garford were independently judged a worthy winner of this most prestigious business award in the UK, for their product Robocrop InRow Weeder.

This revolutionary product will provide a remarkable change to production methods in the vegetable industry. With European legislation eroding the armoury of herbicides available to vegetable growers, which is making profitable production very difficult, the Robocrop InRow Weeder is the first commercial product to use vision analysis techniques to control weed removal between vegetable plants.

The Robocrop InRow Weeder uses digital cameras and image analysis to locate crop plants and then uses this information to control special weeding discs which hoe the area between the plants in order to kill competing weeds. This process is also beneficial in breaking up the soil and so improving plant growth with many vegetable growers claiming considerable growth stimulation.

Selling to the consumers is more appealing as they are able to purchase produce grown without the use of herbicides, whilst at the same time the grower is able to maintain profitable production.

Garford are a family run company employing 19 dedicated staff who have all contributed to the success of the Robocrop InRow Weeder.

Garford are thrilled to be recognised for their achievement and Philip Garford, Managing Director, said “This is a great honour and we are pleased to be able to work with the farmers to create machinery not only to improve the processes in the farming industry but also to contribute to the environmental practices in the country. We look forward to growing the business in the future, producing ever evolving technology, for the benefit of the grower and consumer”.

The product has gained a great reputation within the UK and Europe and, due to its unique nature, is now becoming sought after Worldwide. Garford look forward to the Award ceremony later in the year presented by the Lord Lieutenant of the County, the Queen’s representative.

Technical information

The Robocrop InRow Weeder is the first commercial product to use vision analysis techniques to control mechanical weeding equipment for weed removal between crop rows and between individual plants. The product is aimed at crops planted to a stand (each individual plant occupies its own position along the crop row to within a certain margin of error). In practice row spacings of between 22cm and 110cm and plant spacings of 15cm to 65cm have so far been accommodated although larger and smaller spacings can in theory be accommodated. Robocrop InRow Weeder has been most popularly employed in lettuce and brassica crops. Crop position can be determined to within a few millimetres.

In detail

  • A digital video camera views the crop area (up to 2 mtrs square) just ahead of the weeder.
  • A computer analyses the images at 25 frames persecond looking for clusters of green pixels.
  • The pattern of green pixel clusters are compare to a predetermined grid which relates to the nominal crop row width and in row plant spacings.
  • A best match scenario is determined between image and predetermined grid.
  • The individual plant positions are tracked as they travel down through the image.
  • The computer monitors and controls the position of specially designed weeding rotors, which loop around the plants as they pass by.
  • Adjustment is provided to set the proximity of the weeding action to the plants.
  • The vision system also steers the complete weeder via soil engaging discs.
  • Weeding efficiency of up to 98% surface area is completed by fixed inter row shares.

Garford are pleased to be working in conjunction with Tillet & Hague Technology Ltd on the Robocrop InRow Weeder.

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