AI for pesticide-free smart farming weed removal


The Small Robot Company, a smart farming startup has launched the third element in its robot system for pesdticide-free agriculture, an AI-based system called WIlma that provides ‘per plant intelligence’, using precise information gleaned by Tom, a scouting robot, on the health of the plant.

According to Ben Scott-Robinson, CEO and co-founder of Small Robot Company, the first commercial version of Wilma creates a per-plant crop map and is then AI-enabled to recognise disease and the nutrient status of the plant, enabling precision weeding by the farmbots. Wilma identifies the plant as a weed and direct Dick (the world’s first non-chemical robotic weeder) on the most effective course across the field in order to kill the weeds, such as blackgrass, using the Rootwave technology. The ability to quickly kill pernicious weeds as they appear means that farmers don’t need to wait to drill and can take the opportunity to get crops started in the better weather in early autumn. The weed zapping and slug control (made by Tom), are two initial and fundamental applications for the farmbots.

In time, by reducing the trafficking on the soil and minimising the use of pesticides, these processes can only add to more productive, functioning soils capable of producing quality nutritious food. Small Robot Company infact, raised £1.1m in a recent crowdfunding campaign, with 30 customers prepaying for Farming-as-a-service technology where the robots are sent out as required.

Robotics offers a real chance to answer the many questions of modern agriculture.

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