Danish invention capable of massively reducing pesticide use

Computer program and algorithm can tell the plants from the weeds

A Danish invention has found a way to reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture by as much as 95 percent, the engineering publication Ingeniøren reports.

Morten Stigaard Laursen developed the invention as part of his PhD project at the University of Southern Denmark. It uses a camera connected to a computer programmed with a patented algorithm to differentiate between weeds and crops.

Targeted weed killing
Laursen explained that the system functions by targeting the application of chemicals instead of spraying them over all crops at the same rate.

“The control program in the computer is made so that the boom only sprays pesticides in a small demarcated area if the camera sees weeds in them. The use of pesticides is thereby reduced,” he said.

While other systems working on the same principle have been developed in the past, they have struggled with the problem of differentiating between overlapping plants and have broken down when this happens. Laursen said that his algorithm can deal with this.

“That’s what I’ve been able to do: to find a solution to this. The system doesn’t break down when two leaves overlap. There’s just a bit more noise in the readings,” he said.

The next step for the project before the invention can reach the market – which Laursen is working on with another project – is to find a camera up to the job of finding weeds as they go by at a speed of up to 25 km/h.