SAVINGS on pre-sowing chemicals, fuel, labour, machine depreciation and less ground compaction are being touted as some of the advantages of de-coupled drone-led selective spraying system GEOSELECT, released with much fanfare by Hardi Australia on Wednesday last week.
Using NDVI to identify weeds within a bare paddock, the drone records that geo-location data which is put through the GEOSELECT software and transferred to the sprayer to provide a highly-accurate selective spraying program.
Trials conducted by Hardi in June showed the selective program resulted in only 17.4 per cent of a paddock being sprayed, an 82.6pc saving on chemical compared to a blanket spray.
Testing also showed a 99.7pc hit rate.
Original spatial resolution of images is retained meaning no data is lost, GPS sensors along the boom ensure nozzle accuracy, while factors like latency and ambient conditions are automatically calculated and accounted for.
Presenting at the 2021 Hardi Showcase, held in Gawler, Hardi Australia chief executive officer Bill Franklin said where their new product differed from similar technology was the retention of data and the quality of images used.
"We don't believe you want better cameras, we believe you want better technology," he said.
"We have developed a new product based around capturing data, processing that data and issuing machine instructions. They were the original objectives.
"We thought the holy grail was to develop those concepts in real-time, but we soon discovered barriers and we couldn't develop that in real-time.
"We moved to a de-coupled structure where the imaging means and the spraying means are separate.
"Unlike cameras that are mounted on the boom, we started working on an imaging means by drone and the spraying means being completely separate."
Mr Franklin said there were numerous advantages to a de-coupled system including knowing where to spray before you entered a paddock and the ability to spray at night.
He said the system also recorded proof of placement and accounted for factors including boom deflection and crosswinds.
"When you're there with a camera you have got to drive past it before you know it's present," he said.
"By taking the images before then we know exactly where the targets are, how many targets are in the paddock so we can thereby work out how much chemical to take on.
"We know areas that don't require treatment that we can avoid completely.
"We can save labour, fuel, ground compaction and machine depreciation. Importantly, we can reduce our environmental footprint and avoid resistance by only applying chemical where we need to."
Hardi have collaborated with Australian company Delta Drones to provide pilots for drone imaging services. The drone can scan and process images from 1000 hectares a day.
Mr Franklin said GEOSELECT was not just a selective spraying system, with Hardi filing to use it for the application of trace elements, agri-nutrients, biological agents and gibberellins.
The system also has a blanket spray mode and uses stock standard Hardi spray nozzles.
Geo Select will only be released on self-propelled sprayers for the next 12 months and the first deliveries are expected late this year to early 2022, with the system to be sold by Hardi's traditional dealer network.
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