A new precision sprayer option is coming to America next year, courtesy of Israel-based Greeneye Technology. The new artificial intelligence-powered equipment, which attaches to existing machinery, promises to lower herbicide use while also increasing productivity and profitability.
“Despite a concerted effort by the agriculture industry to develop precision spraying technologies, so far very few of these projects have moved beyond the trial phase. This is because the technology either fails to deliver the necessary level of accuracy and efficacy, or it requires farmers to invest in new spraying machines, making it prohibitively expensive,” explains Greeneye CEO Nadav Bocher. Weeds cost U.S. farmers $33 billion annually in lost production, according to Bocher. Current tools to combat weed pressure require spraying herbicides across the entire field, wasting millions of gallons of chemicals every year. The inefficiency of traditional broadcast systems means farmers spend more money than necessary on herbicides, while the excess chemicals contribute to herbicide-resistant weeds, as well as soil and water contamination.
Greeneye, which is backed by global agrochemical giant Syngenta, overcomes those inefficiencies with what it calls a “Selective Spraying” (SSP) system. Bocher says Greeneye’s system is the only one to currently offer equipment that can be installed on existing tractors. Greeneye’s AI technology can detect some 200 different plants with more than 95% accuracy, according to the company. Greeneye so far has piloted the technology on corn and soybean farms in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. The company says the system is proven to reduce herbicide use by 78% and cut herbicide costs by more than 50%.
Greeneye uses a combination of hardware and deep machine learning to detect and target unwanted weeds. Cameras mounted directly onto spraying machines capture images at 40 frames per second. Utilizing Greeneye’s proprietary dataset and algorithms, the system can identify and target individual weeds in growing grass and arable crops (known as “green-on-green”). Greeneye’s technology rapidly detects weeds down to the species level and instantly calculates the amount of herbicide required. Targeted weeds are sprayed directly, leaving nearby crops unaffected.
Additionally, Greeneye’s boom-mounted cameras scout the entire field in sub-mm resolution to produce detailed scouting reports, giving farmers valuable insights from their fields. The data collected can then be accessed through Greeneye’s scouting platform to help optimize herbicide programs based on each operation’s unique field conditions.
The platform also features a dual-spraying function that allows farmers to apply residual herbicides on a broadcast basis while applying nonresidual herbicides precisely on weeds. Currently, farmers mix residual and non-residual herbicides and spray them from the same nozzle, meaning they use far more nonresidual herbicides than is needed. The dual-spraying system overcomes this challenge by enabling farmers to spray only the herbicide required.
Greeneye just launched its global rollout this month with its first commercial sale to the largest farming operation in Israel. The company will continue the rollout in 2022 in North America starting with corn and soybean farmers in the U.S. Midwest before increasing availability to other regions in 2023. From what I understand, Greeneye’s early adopter program in North America was oversubscribed within only a couple of days and already has a waiting list for 2023. Learn more at the Greeneye Technology website HERE. (Sources: CropLife, Bloomberg)