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Image of weedseeker spot spraying vs boom spray

How does WeedSeeker® ‘seek’ out weeds?

We’ve been testing out the latest WeedSeeker 2 technology, and it’s been causing a stir within our team and the industry here in New Zealand. Many of you will already know that WeedSeeker is a spot spraying system – using weed seeking technology to pinpoint where weeds are on the ground. This allows farmers to spot spray – only spraying herbicide on weeds, rather than using a conventional boom sprayer to blanket spray the entire ground. This reduces the amount of herbicide used, significantly reducing farm expenditure. 

This precision technology also allows farmers to eliminate resistant weeds, by detecting and spraying them directly again if needed. Not to mention reduced herbicide drift and increased sustainability gained through minimising chemical waste. 

So, how does the WeedSeeker 2 ‘seek’ out the weeds? 

WeedSeeker 2 uses weed seeking technology with advanced optics to sense and analyse specific types of light. Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, selectively absorbs red light and reflects near-infrared light (3). These types of light are invisible to the human eye. WeedSeeker 2 has an in-built light which shines on the ground, and is reflected into a sensor that captures and analyses the light. As the weed absorbs red light and reflects infrared light, lower levels of red light and higher levels of infrared light signify the presence of a weed. The light is analysed by the controller to determine the amount and type of light being reflected. This means WeedSeeker isn’t ‘seeing’ the green weed but detecting the right levels of red light. Once detected, a spray nozzle is triggered, spraying chemical directly onto the weed. 

How effective is the technology? 

Studies examining the use of WeedSeeker technology compared to boom sprayers have shown a significant decrease in herbicide use while maintaining a commercially acceptable level of weed control (1, 2, 3). This suggests it can have huge benefits for farmers – reducing one of the largest costs of farming while still effectively solving the weed problem. 

The WeedSeeker 2 has significantly improved sensors and computational power, meaning it’s even more effective than its predecessor. We’ve been very impressed with the results already! 

To find out more about WeedSeeker 2 and how it can work for your farm, contact your local Vantage rep today. 

Referred articles: 

WeedSeeker® technology report 

The Use of an Automatic Spot-Sprayer in Western Tree Crops and Weed Control in a Pecan Orchard Using Preemergence and Postemergence Herbicides 

Development of a Trigger-On Indicator for a Weed Sensing Spray Unit 

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