At Cereals this week, Chafer gave an update on the One Smart Spray project, in which it is a partner with Bosch, BASF Digital Farming and Rothamsted Research. The consortium is halfway through a three-year project that will develop the use of precision farming technology and artificial intelligence to help target blackgrass, funded by a grant of £1,452,614 for the three-year project from DEFRA and Innovate UK.

Cameras have been installed on the Chafer Interceptor self-propelled sprayer to capture and record high quality images of weed growth as it moves through the crop.

The Chafer sprayer has developed through the project. It began with 12 cameras and 24 lights, which were used on a small section of the boom as the team established the optimum set-up of lights and cameras. There are now 30 cameras and 60 lights that stretch across the full width of the boom.

“We’re aiming to see how the technology can adapt into a usable, functioning sprayer capable of working at up to 18kph in different light conditions,” explains Chafer’s engineering manager Ross Pearson.

“The operator will be able to scan the field while carrying out other applications and carry out applications based on the weed data collected.”

A Bosch artificial intelligence (AI)-based model is being trained to recognise black-grass in a greenhouse environment, which will shortly be ready for use as a prototype in-field. Image labelling is done by blackgrass experts from Rothamsted.

As the project progresses, weekly scanning takes place across key growing seasons and the field data generated is used to develop granular black-grass maps. Agronomic recommendations then focus on the development of an integrated weed management plan across the farm, made available through the Xarvio Field Manager app.

In year three of the project, the data will be used to produce application maps and define thresholds for spraying, which could allow spraying in real-time .

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