From the Ground Up: Using Artificial Intelligence for Weed Control

Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 7:28 AM CST
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Almost everyone knows what a smartphone is, but there are also new generations of smart machines being built that will be used in agriculture to help manage a crop. Shannon Pickering is a market development manager for Blue River Technology.

“We are working on several projects but primarily focused on spraying. So precision spraying using computer vision systems and artificial intelligence in order to be able to identify every plant in the field and determine what is the crop versus the weeds and only spray the weeds.”

John Deere acquired Blue River Technology in 2017 to help make its Ag equipment smarter.

“We hope to do several things all at once basically. Number one is become more efficient. Utilize resources wisely. Be able to spray less pesticides on crops. If we can identify the weeds in the field and only spray the weeds instead of spraying the entire field then that’s a big deal. That’s a lot of chemical savings that’s not going into the soil or onto the plant. So being able to provide a more sustainable solution for our farmers going forward is really a big deal for us.”

One of their early conceptual sprayers showed up to 95 percent fewer chemicals being sprayed in the field where they were being very precise and applying it only where it needed to go which was on the weeds.

“It has to provide value to the grower. It has to provide efficiency to pay for itself, and so that’s a must and it will do that for sure. The technology is here. We definitely have the capability of doing this today. It’s just a matter of integrating it into the machinery. We’re a few years away yet probably from seeing it in a go-to-market form but the potential is there. The technology works and it’s coming for sure.”