Home » AI-Powered Weed Control to Change Cane Farming in Australia, Saving Costs and Boosting Environmental Sustainability

AI-Powered Weed Control to Change Cane Farming in Australia, Saving Costs and Boosting Environmental Sustainability

by Agritech Digest
Using AI to detect weed in cane field in Australia Agritech Digest

In Australia, a collaborative effort between researchers from James Cook University (JCU), agricultural technology firm AutoWeed, and Sugar Research Australia, an innovative machine which employs artificial intelligence (AI) technology is revolutionising weed control in cane paddocks, offering substantial cost savings compared to conventional spraying techniques. The innovative system utilises AI algorithms to identify and target weeds like nutgrass, significantly reducing herbicide usage. 

Associate Professor Mostafa Rahimi Azghadi, the lead researcher on the project from JCU, highlighted the substantial benefits, stating, “In the best cases where weed infestation has been lower, we have saved up to 65 per cent in herbicide usage.”

Furthermore, a water quality assessment conducted by Sugar Research Australia during testing revealed that paddocks treated with the AutoWeed AI sprayer saw a remarkable average reduction of 46% in chemical concentration in water runoff, proving the positive environmental impact of this technology.

(Read also: The Future of Food Production is Promising with These Innovative Advancing Technologies)

Terry Granshaw, SRA District Manager (Burdekin – Central), emphasised the economic advantages, especially when dealing with costly herbicides like those used to combat nutgrass. Granshaw explained, “Herbicides that control nutgrass are expensive. Weeds like nutgrass come in patches, so instead of a total blanket spray of the farm, we are only spraying the areas we need to. If we can spray less of it, we’re saving money and we’re doing a better job for the environment.”

Emilie Fillols, SRA’s Chief Investigator, revealed that the research team has expanded its trials to include various weed species while addressing technical challenges, such as shadow interference.

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This groundbreaking project received funding through a grant from the collaboration between the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Australian Government Reef Trust and brings together the expertise of JCU, AutoWeed, and Sugar Research Australia to advance sustainable agriculture practices with the aid of AI-driven weed control technology.

See demonstration in the video here.

Read more about this innovation here.

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