Project informationThe DockWeeder robot enables organic dairy farming by controlling grassland weeds
Call: Enabling Precision Farming
|No||Partner||Contact||Country||Total 1000€||Funded 1000€||Funder|
|1 Coord.||Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (DLO)|
Wageningen University and Research Center
|Frits van Evert||Netherlands||78.7||78.7||Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation|
|2||Automation and Control|
Institute for Electrical Engineering
Technical University of Denmark
|Lazaros Nalpantidis||Denmark||108.4||108.4||Innovation Fund Denmark|
Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education
|3||Agricultural System Engineering|
Agricultural Economics and Engineering
Agroscope Reckenholz-Taenikon Research Station ART
|Thomas Anken||Switzerland||59.0||40.0||Federal Office for Agriculture - Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft|
|4||Terrena Innovation||PINEL Bertrand||France||76.0||0.0||None|
|6||Bachmann AG, Bütschwil||Hans Bachmann||Switzerland||17.0||0.0||None|
|7||Institute for Lab Automation and Mechatronics|
Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil
|Dejan Seatovic||Switzerland||116.0||87.1||Federal Office for Agriculture - Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft|
Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius L.) is a common and troublesome weed with a wide geographic distribution. The weed is readily consumed by livestock but its nutritive value is less than that of grass. The high contents of oxalic acid and oxalates can affect animal health if consumed in larger doses. When left uncontrolled, the weed will reach a high density and reduce grass yield by 10 to 40%. In conventional dairy farming, the weed is normally controlled by using herbicides. In organic farming no synthetic pesticides are used and there is a risk that broad-leaved dock will spread. This is also true in ecologically intensive dairy farming, where one of the goals is to maintain multi-species pastures where use of herbicides would affect desirable species such as clovers and vetch. As an illustration, on 17 organic dairy farms surveyed in The Netherlands, 51% of fields were infested at more than 1,000 plants hectare-1. Similarly, of 108 organic farmers surveyed in Germany, 85% indicated having problems with broad-leaved dock. Thus, broad-leaved dock may turn out to be a serious obstacle to achieve the European goal of increasing the share of organic farming.
The solution proposed here consists of creating a robot that is capable of exploring a pasture by relying on GPS, equipping it with an array of sensors to detect the weed, and also equipping it with a non-chemical method to eliminate detected weeds. In earlier work, we demonstrated with an experimental robot that under certain conditions adequate weed detection and control is possible. Importantly, we found that the weed population remained low for three years after control. This earlier work had three major shortcomings: the mechanical construction of the autonomous platform was insufficiently robust, the weed detection worked only under a limited set of environmental conditions, and the weed control method was prone to mechanical breakdown on stony ground. In this project, we address all three shortcomings. We use an existing, robust autonomous platform, we advance the state of the art of weed detection by combining two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) imaging, and we adopt and optimize an innovative, environment-friendly hot-water treatment to eliminate weeds. In summary, by combining the expertise of the consortium partners, we will be able to build a robot to detect and control broad-leaved dock which has immediate commercial potential (TRL 7).
Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius L.) is a common and troublesome weed with a wide geographic distribution. This weed is readily consumed by livestock, but has a reduced nutritive value compared to grass. If this weed is consumed in large doses, the high contents of oxalic acid and oxalates can affect animal health. The project DockWeeder developed a robot capable of exploring a pasture by relying on GPS. It is equipped with an array of sensors capable of detecting weeds; the system is also coupled with a non-chemical method to eliminate them. The robot uses an existing, robust autonomous platform, and combines two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) imaging detection systems. The weeds are eliminated using an environmentally friendly hot water treatment system. Additionally, a system to control the weed through defoliation is currently under development. If the current software can be developed towards the recognition of individual plant types, it could potentially be used for purposes other than weeding. For example, it could also be used to monitor the growth and development of plants, providing information regarding optimum fertilisation and irrigation procedures.
- Creating a robot that is capable of exploring a pasture by relying on GPS, equipping it with an array of sensors to detect the weed, and also equipping it with a non-chemical method to eliminate detected weeds.
- Advance the state of the art of weed detection by combining two dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) imaging
- Adopt and optimize an innovative, environment-friendly hot-water treatment to eliminate weeds.
- Implementation of transnational Precision Farming solutions
- Precision Livestock Farming