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An Automated Mechanical Weed Control System for Organic Row Crop Production

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131593595,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: 10.13031/aim.20131593595) @2013
Authors:   Mazin N. Saber, Won Suk Lee, Thomas F. Burks, Gregory E. MacDonald, Gezan A. Salvador
Keywords:   Cultivation, Intra-row, Organic weed management, Robotic weeding.

Abstract. Weed management is a tedious task especially in organic vegetable crop production since herbicides are prohibited, and hand weeding is relatively costly and difficult to organize. However, mechanical weed control is one tool that can be implemented by organic growers. They basically use simple tools to control weeds between crop rows, such as basket weeder, and different type of sweepers. While there are numerous tools that offer excellent inter-row weed control, there are limited intra-row weed control methods. The goal of this study was to develop a mechanical intra-row weed control prototype. The prototype uses rollers mechanism to uproot intra-row weeds, and ultrasonic distance sensor to discriminate between crop/weed plants. The specific objectives were to design a hardware and software system to control the operation of the intra-row weeding roller mechanism and acquire crop/weeds height data from the ultrasonic sensor. A preliminary field test was carried out to evaluate the performance of the mechanical intra-row weeding system. Results showed that the mechanical weeding machine were able to uproot weeds. Weeds height was ranged from 10 cm to 18 cm. Further field experiments will be conducted to evaluate the efficacy of the intra-row weeding prototype and crop injury.

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