Laser solution to kill weeds in sugarbeet cultivation

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Vision of a weed control system that combines hoeing technology with laser technology for environmentally compatible sugarbeet cultivation. (Image: Kress Umweltschonende Landtechnik GmbH)

The Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) and its partners are developing a laser-based approach to killing weeds in sugarbeet cultivation.

To create good growth opportunities for sugarbeet plants, farmers need to remove weeds near the crops as they compete for water, nutrients, and sunlight.

Whether conventional or organic farming is used, there is a need to further develop agricultural technology solutions for effective and cost-efficient weed management in sugarbeet cultivation. 

Hence the ongoing development of a new solution by LZH and the other partners of the 'LUM' project: 'Photonic weed control in sugar beet cultivation - laser-based weed management'.  

The project pursues a laser-based approach as an alternative.

In combination with hoeing machines, this should enable full-area, chemical-free weed control in the field in the future. The partners will research and develop an efficient and powerful system combination to enable the largest possible area to be cultivated, even when time windows are small due to weather conditions.

This will include image capture and intelligent data processing that can precisely distinguish and locate sugarbeet plants from weeds in real-time. This data is used to precisely control lasers as well as hoeing tools. The combination brings together the advantages of both methods. First, the laser is used to kill weeds that have already emerged near the sugarbeet. Then, with sufficient distance to the crop, the remaining field area is freed from weeds by mechanical control measures, or growing weeds that have not yet emerged are literally nipped in the bud.

Related story: AI-powered lasers to remove weeds from fields

With this new approach, the partners from research and application aim to create environmentally friendly, chemical-free, sustainable, precise, intelligent, and automated weed control in sugarbeet cultivation.

The LUM project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In addition to LZH, the project involves K.U.L.T. Kress Umweltschonende Landtechnik, Escarda Technologies, Novanta Europe, Lumics and Dachverband Norddeutscher Zuckerrübenanbauer. Associated partners are Nordzucker, and Grimme Landmaschinenfabrik.

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Carbon Robotics' autonomous weed elimination robot combines AI and laser technology to identify, target and eliminate weeds. (Image: Carbon Robotics)

25 April 2021