Smart sensor based E-weed control - Dr. Nitin Saluja, Chitkara University Research and Innovation Network
In India, among various factors responsible for low crop yield in agriculture, weed infestation is the major one. Weed is an undesired plant in the farm which shares the nutrient with the desired crop. The usual method to control weeds is to use chemical weedicides. This undoubtedly helps the farmers to increase their crop yields, but leads to various hazardous side effects – for crops, farmers, consumers and the environment.
Then, there are other issues as well. There are new types of species of weeds evolving each year (e.g. Malvaparviflorawallr). Continuous use of the same weedicides, year-after-year, is causing the weeds to become weedicide resistant. Then, there are different time windows for different weeds (0, 20, 35, 45, 55 and 60 days after weed emergence) to grow, making it more difficult to find an optimum time to treat them. It is estimated that 164 kg/hectare (FICCI Report from India maize summit 2015) pesticides are used in India, compelling farmers to bear this high cost, which eventually may be transferred to consumers. The cost of spraying chemical weedicide is estimated to be Rs. 3176 / hectare.
Through this innovation, we propose a chemical-free effective, reliable and safe solution for weed control. The invention is based on the capability of high frequency waves to selectively treat the weeds by cell death (necrosis). This innovation which is an unmanned machine called E-Deweeder (also popularly called ‘Magical Machine' by farmers) is designed to traverse on non-uniform terrain without causing any harm to the crop. Principle of machine vision coupled with morphological and physiological properties is used to identify weeds from plants / crop. Only the identified weeds are then treated with microwaves to cause necrosis, thus causing permanent weedicide. The present processor and actuator system used in the machine (prototype) are capable of identifying and processing the weeds @ 0.77 hectare / hour. Our invention can result in crop yield enhancement up to 37%, without any hazardous side effects.
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