Sensor technology for the detection of plant rows for guidance of mechanical weeding tools in row crops
hoes, precision plant protection, mechanical weeding, plant detection, automatic hoe steering
The traditional methods of weed elimination are the application of herbicides and physical treatment, particularly mechanical hoeing. Ideological claims and an increasing availability of herbicides have initiated the development of innovative hoeing technology. Today mechanical weeding is applied in row crops, but due to the low working speed and the limited working width of hoe equipment, the capacity of mechanical weeding is low, which results in higher costs and a lower yield than can be achieved by chemical methods. For environmental reasons, non-chemical weeding is more favorable than chemical weeding. Moreover, current regulations which limit the application of herbicides in vegetable cultivation necessitate strengthened efforts to improve mechanical weeding. For this purpose, precise plant protection employs advanced sensor systems to raise the accuracy with which cutting tools can be guided. In this project, a new guiding concept for cutting tools is being developed which will allow an adaptation to variations in the working space between rows. The project also includes the development of an advanced optical sensor system for the detection of single rows and plants; this will be used to control cutting tools. The tasks of the control mechanism will be subdivided into controlling the tool carrier and controlling the cutting device. This innovation is intended to raise the percentage of weeded area with lower damages to row crops, preferably at high traveling speeds of the tractor to increase the capacity of the machine. For the evaluation of this precise hoe, a testing and simulation software is being developed which allows the automatic calibration of different hydraulically adjustable hoes. Reaction time and accuracy are determined and evaluated by means of different parameters like theoretical driving speed, plant species, plant distances and their variation. The results could be a part of a testing method for sensor-guided hoes.
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