Garford Farm Machinery Ltd, exhibiting at the Cereals 2014 event, were hugely encourgaged to be awarded the Gold IMMA Award for their Robocrop Spot Sprayer.
The award was received for Innovation in the Sprayer category, in this new competition organised by the Cereals Event and supported by the Agricultural Engineers Association, IAgrE, the Royal Agricultural University and Farmers Weekly. The competition aims to reward companies who have produced machines that show particular innovation, effectiveness and value and Garford’s Robocrop Spot Sprayer was seen as an emerging innovation.
TheRobocrop Spot Sprayer is the latest in the Garford Robocrop Family utilising the Robocrop imaging system which in the case of the spot sprayer firstly defines the position of the crop and then looks for clumps of weeds growing between or amongst the row which it then targets with a special jet of weedkiller in order to kill the weed but avoid contact with the crop. In this way problem weeds can be controlled with extrememly low rates compared to overall spraying, often only 1 or 2% of the overall rate.
On receiving the award from the IMMA Chris Lunn, Export Sales Manager, said, “It is a great honour for the family owned business to be presented with this award and is the result of many years of building high quality precision weed control machines for the professional farmer. The Robocrop Spot Sprayer takes the control of weeds to a higher level with minimum chemical use to the benefit of the farmer, the consumer and the environment”.
The Robocrop Spot Sprayer has been in development over the last few years by Garfords technology partners, Tillett Hague Technology, prompted by the impending withdrawal of key herbicides particularly those used for volunteer potato control in onion and carrot crops.
Philip Garford, Managing Director, commented “This type of intelligent chemical applicator is likely to play an ever increasing part in world agriculture as the armoury of selective herbicides become further depleted and herbicide resistance increases. The environmental benefits is also considerable”.
The technique could be employed in other crops where a regular crop row structure can be identified and clumps of problem weeds exist.
As well as development of the image analysis software the project also involved the design and development of a special fluidic nozzle, in conjunction with Hypro EU Ltd, to provide an accurately directed jet of spray composed of a very narrow range droplet size in order to avoid splash off or drift.
The Spot Sprayer is currently available in sizes up to 6mtr working width and working speeds of 7kph are normal.