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Level 4 robotic weeders
Dr Charles Merfield, Head of the FFC recently published a journal paper titled ‘Could the dawn of Level 4 robotic weeders facilitate a revolution in ecological weed management?’ The last few years have seen massive advances in the use of convoluted neural networks computers (such as Google’s DeepMind) to power computer vision systems. These Level 3 system can now identify (in vegetable crops) every single plant and determine if it is crop or weed plant. The robots can then individually kill the latter through a range of approaches. This opens up the concept of Level 4 robotic weeders where each individual plant is identified and then individually managed: crop plants could receive fertiliser, non-harmful-not crop plants “aliae plantae” are left alone unless their populations are too high, and only “true weeds” are killed. Level 4 robots could also facilitate many other techniques that are currently impossible at a practical and/or economic level, such as plant level intercropping (see pixel cropping). Read an open access (but read only) version of the paper.
Integrated weed management (IWM)
IWMPraise (Integrated Weed Management: PRActical Implementation and Solutions for Europe) is a large pan-European Union (EU) Project on integrated weed management (IWM). They have published a range of resources on IWM.
A keynote paper “An Integrated Weed Management framework: A pan-European perspective” creates a generic framework for IWM to help farmers, growers, agronomists optimise their weed management systems and design novel approaches. The paper is open access at doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2021.126443
A large number of ‘Tool Sheets’ – one to two page description of a diverse range of IWM tools and tactics, as well as ‘Inspiration Sheets’ that take a deeper dive into larger IWM approaches and systems. Plus other resources on their website.