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Bud’, from Carbon Robotics

Robot lasers weeds from the fields without herbicide

Seattle autonomous robotics company Carbon Robotics aims to confront the multi-billion dollar global herbicide market with its laser-armed weed elimination robot. The machine, named “Bud”, rolls through farm fields using artificial intelligence to discern weeds from crops and using a high-power laser to kill the weeds. This will enable farmers to cultivate crops with less herbicide and reduced labor, improving crop yields and saving money.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/AP0yiOI8Qas

Bud’s robot brain is an Nvidia AI processor that gathers information from a dozen high-resolution cameras to feed its crop and weed computer vision models. Bud carries lighting so that it can illuminate the scene to let the cameras spot weeds at night.

Source: designnews.com

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Laser-Armed Robot Terminates Weeds Without Herbicide

Design News

Carbon RoboticsCarbon Robotics machine.jpgCarbon Robotics autonomous weeder, “Bud.”Carbon Robotics robots fry weeds with lasers instead of chemicals.

Dan Carney | Dec 13, 2021

The global herbicide market was $33.65 billion in 2020, according to ResearchandMarkets.com, but Carbon Robotics, an autonomous robotics company, aims to put a dent in that with an autonomous laser-armed weed elimination robot.

Like “The Terminator” for weeds, the Carbon Robotics machine, dubbed “Bud,” rolls through farm fields using artificial intelligence to discern weeds from crops and using a high-power laser to kill the weeds. This lets farmers cultivate crops with less herbicide and reduced labor, improving crop yields and saving money.https://www.youtube.com/embed/AP0yiOI8Qas

Related: How to Build a Better Planting Operation

“AI and deep learning technology are creating efficiencies across a variety of industries and we’re excited to apply it to agriculture,” said Carbon Robotics CEO and Founder, Paul Mikesell. “Farmers, and others in the global food supply chain, are innovating now more than ever to keep the world fed. Our goal at Carbon Robotics is to create tools that address their most challenging problems, including weed management and elimination.”

Carbon Robotics cites these benefits for farmers deploying its robots:  

  • A significant increase in crop yield and quality: Lasers leave the soil microbiology undisturbed, unlike tillage. The lack of herbicides and soil disruption paves the way for a regenerative approach, which leads to healthy crops and higher yields.
  • A reduction in overall costs: Automated robots enable farmers to reduce the highly variable cost of manual labor as well as reduce the use of crop inputs such as herbicides and fertilizers. Labor is often farmers’ biggest cost and crop inputs account for 28.2 percent of their total expenses. Reducing costs in both these areas is a huge benefit.
  • Adoption of regenerative farming practices: Traditional chemicals used by farmers, such as herbicides, deteriorate soil health and are tied to health problems in humans and other mammals. A laser-powered, autonomous weed management solution reduces or eliminates farmers’ needs for herbicides.
  • An economical path to organic farming: One of the largest obstacles to organic farming is cost-effective weed control. A solution to weed management that doesn’t require herbicides or an increase in manual labor provides farmers with a more realistic path to classifying their crops as organic.

Related: Autonomous-Capable Electric Tractor Promises Improved Farm Productivity

The Bud robot’s brain is an Nvidia AI processor that gathers information from a dozen high-resolution cameras to feed its crop and weed computer vision models. Bud carries lighting so that it can illuminate the scene to let the cameras spot weeds at night.

The business end of the robot contains eight independent weed-killing units, each employing a 150-watt laser that can fire every 50 milliseconds and hit targets with 3 mm accuracy. These have the capacity to zap more than 100,000 weeds per hour. It also has lidar sensors for obstacle detection. The entire 9,500-lb. machine is powered by a 74-horsepower Cummins QSF2.8 diesel engine powering four hydraulic drive motors.

It sounds straightforward, but it took a lot of work to make this practical. “Some of the problems we encountered are having to generate a lot of power in a mobile platform and then distribute that to all of our lasers and cooling systems,” observed Carbon Robotics’ electrical engineer Ben Neubauer. “One of the things that is really enjoyable about working on agriculture robotics like this is working with a lot of different industries and systems,” he added.https://www.youtube.com/embed/FgO4rl5H3Cg

Of course, the important thing with a weed terminator is avoiding collateral damage of crops. “One of the first things we worked on at Carbon is the ability to drive down the field without going into bed tops, without crossing them and going over crops,” said Raven Pillmann, deep learning software engineer. “The way we want to do that is by avoiding any GPS, location waypoints, or any sort of plotting. Our approach was to use deep learning and create a furrow detection model. It takes in images with the camera which has RGB and depth sensors, it will run this through a model that gives out the location of the furrow. At the same time running concurrently in another process, we have our controls which will take in the latest prediction, and it will look at where the robot is aligned and the difference between that and the furrow prediction and that will tell it which way to turn the wheel.”

These robots can handle row crops in fields between 200 acres and tens of thousands of acres in size, with each robot clearing 15-20 acres per day to replace several deployments of hand-weeding crews. The robots have undergone testing on specialty crops farms, working on fields with a variety of crops, including broccoli and onions.

“This is one of the most innovative and valuable technologies that I’ve seen as a farmer,” said James Johnson of Carzalia Valley Produce in New Mexico, who uses Carbon Robotics technology on his farm. “I expect the robots to go mainstream because of how effectively they address some of farming’s most critical issues, including the overuse of chemicals, process efficiency, and labor. These robots work with a variety of crops, are autonomous and organic. The sky’s the limit.”

Carzalia Valley Produce liked the idea of switching to organic farming practices, Johnson added, but couldn’t find a way to make it work until using the autonomous weeding robot. “Two years ago I thought that eventually, I could go organic,” he said. “After a year of trying my first regenerative [practices], I was back to thinking ‘There’s no way I can go organic.’ The biggest hurdle I had with transitioning to organic was organic weed control. This solves that problem. Conventional weeding consists of mechanical cultivation, herbicide application, as well as hand weeding. Any kind of chemical input, be it chemical fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide, or anything else that we would apply has an adverse effect either on plant health or soil health.”

So, as long as we can keep Bud and its brethren tending the crops with its lasers and not chasing saviors of mankind through the streets of 1984 Los Angeles, then only the weeds have anything to fear from these terminators!

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No need for herbicides to remove weeds
1 December 2021
PRESS RELEASE

© Federal Office of Agriculture and Food/Fraunhofer

Fraunhofer researchers have collaborated with partners to develop a platform to remove weeds fully automatically. The mobile AMU-Bot robot system navigates using optical sensors and removes weeds mechanically without the need for chemicals. The researchers have also been working on a comprehensive, data-supported ecosystem for the resource-efficient and environmentally friendly automation of agricultural processes, writes Fraunhofer in a press release.

Weeds in tree nurseries, vegetable gardens and orchards are a grower’s worst nightmare. Especially in the early stages of the crop’s growth, weeds compete with crops for water, light and nutrients. Removing them by manual hoeing is labor-intensive and using herbicides is far from ideal as they pollute the environment. The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart has joined forces with partners to develop a mobile, mechanical system that reliably removes weeds in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner. The autonomous caterpillar vehicle, AMU-Bot (“AMU” being short for “autonomous mechanical weed control” in German), drives between the rows of saplings in the tree nursery and removes any weeds using rotary harrows. The rotating blades are attached to a height-adjustable manipulator. At the end of the row of trees, the caterpillar vehicle turns around and autonomously starts on the next row.

Navigation with LiDAR scanners
The project team, headed by Kevin Bregler (Head of Field Robotics at the Robot and Assistive Systems department), together with partners Bosch and KommTek used optical sensors for the navigation system. The LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scanners installed in the robot system continuously emit laser pulses as the vehicle moves, which are then reflected by objects in the surrounding area. The distances to these objects can be calculated based on the time it takes for the reflected laser pulses to reach the sensor again. This produces a 3D point cloud of the environment. The robot system uses this to find its way and determine the position of plants or trees.

Kevin Bregler explains: “AMU-Bot is not yet able to classify all plants; however, it can recognize crops such as trees and shrubs in the rows of the tree nursery cultivations. Moreover, the distances between the individual crops are calculated. Using this information, the weeds can then be reliably removed. The robot uses these data to navigate along the rows while the manipulator removes any weeds.”

Even weeds in the spaces between the plants or trees can be reliably killed off. To that end, the manipulator moves into the gaps between the crops. The weeds do not need to be collected and are left on the ground to dry out. Thanks to its caterpillar drive, the self-driving weed killer moves along the ground with ease and is extremely stable. Even holes in the ground created when saplings are removed do not pose a problem for AMU-Bot. The AMU-Bot platform is economical, robust, easy to operate and highly efficient. Rotary harrows, for example, have long since proven successful in agriculture. They are often used to break up the soil prior to sowing crops. Fraunhofer expert Bregler says: “Removing weeds is a very relevant topic and one that is rather complex. There are various approaches that can be taken: grubbing, cutting, hoeing, flaming or treating the weeds with herbicides. However, herbicides are no longer popular, especially in ecological agriculture and for tree nurseries or orchards. Our method completely avoids the use of chemicals.”

Robust, reliable and cost-effective
The project managers made a conscious decision to develop a seemingly simple solution. “A system that classifies the different individual plants requires high-resolution cameras, AI-supported image recognition algorithms and plant profiles stored in a database. These systems are far more complex and expensive. Not only that, but they cannot readily switch to working in new contexts,” explains Bregler. In comparison, the AMU-Bot platform relies on the sophisticated interplay of three fully developed modules: caterpillar vehicle, navigator system and manipulator. AMU-Bot is also the result of an efficient partnership. Bosch is responsible for the navigation and sensor system, while KommTek developed the caterpillar drive. Fraunhofer IPA engineered the height-adjustable manipulator, including rotary harrows, and was responsible for overall coordination. The project was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the German Federal Office of Agriculture and Food (BLE) was the project sponsor. The Fraunhofer experts are already planning the next step. Together with seven other Fraunhofer Institutes, IPA expert Kevin Bregler and the project team are working on a new, high-performance ecosystem called COGNAC (Cognitive Agriculture). Digital services and data, which also include interactions between biospheres and production, are networked to form this ecosystem. In addition, COGNAC integrates intelligent sensors and robotics. The aim is to create flexible and intelligent automation of sustainable agriculture — including weed control.

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How to create an integrated weed management strategy for grassweeds in cereals

Provided by

Farmer’s Weekly

At Bayer Crop Science, we’re committed to supporting farmers on their journey, putting health, nutrition and sustainable food production at the very heart of what we do. As the UK’s leading agricultural innovators across seeds, crop protection products and services, we want to help shape the future of farming in a way that benefits everyone.© Bayer Crop Science© Bayer Crop Science

Grassweeds, such as blackgrass but also increasingly ryegrass and bromes, are probably the main agronomic threat to cereal production in the UK.

Without a good control strategy, over time they can increase to levels that threaten the economic viability of crop production.

For many, the main control strategy has been the use of herbicides. The most recent pesticide usage survey in 2016 suggested over 98% of wheat crops received a herbicide. That’s unlikely to have changed much in the intervening years.

But reliance just on herbicides to control weeds is fraught with danger. History has shown that grassweeds are incredibly adaptable and with active ingredients both becoming more difficult to register for use and being removed from the market, the remaining ones are even more at risk from grassweeds developing resistant to them.

That increasing difficulty to control grassweeds with chemicals has been the primary driver for growers to consider and use non-chemical methods of control.

In a lot of cases incorporating those alternatives has coincided with improved grassweed control – and is now commonly cited as the key to controlling blackgrass especially.

But it just highlights that integrated weed management is usually the key to long-term sustainable weed control programmes.

What is integrated weed management?

At its simplest integrated weed management is about using multiple methods of controlling weeds, including cultural, genetic, mechanical, biological and chemical controls, rather than just relying on one method alone.

In reality, for most that means reducing the reliance on herbicides by integrating a wide range of cultural control options including cultivations, drilling date, cropping choice, mechanical weed control and other physical controls.

What do you need to know to put an integrated weed management plan together?

Understanding a weed’s biology and life cycle – a weed’s seasonal pattern of growth and reproduction – is perhaps the most important starting point for an integrated weed management plant, after knowing what weeds you’re trying to control.

Within the life cycle there are generally five potential ways to control weeds:

1. By preventing seed return

This is crucial for grassweeds, which produce high levels of seed and can establish large viable seedbanks in one season.

Example control measures that can help prevent seed return include the use of glyphosate to aggressively target blackgrass patches in early June and harvest weed seed management such as cage mills retrofitted on combines to pulverise ryegrass seed.

2. By depleting the seedbank

The seedbank is the seeds in the soil resulting from seeding in previous years. Seed numbers can decrease in time as they germinate, decay or are eaten by wildlife, but some buried seed can survive for many years.

Understanding this dynamic is crucial – it’s both possible to deplete the seed bank by good management and make it worse.

For example, ploughing can be a good tactic to reduce grassweeds as it will bury seeds to a depth from where they are unable to germinate, but can also be a poor tactic if done too often and weed seeds that had been buried are brought back to the surface and are able to germinate.

Other examples of control tactics that will help deplete seedbanks include stale seedbeds and delayed drilling, which encourage weed seeds to germinate and then be destroyed either mechanically or with glyphosate before the crop is drilled.

3. By killing weed seedlings

Knowing when weed seeds will emerge can help determine the most effective control methods. For example, blackgrass typically germinates in the autumn and means that delaying planting a crop until the spring can help reduce the amount of germination in the crop.

As weeds grow, they will compete with the crop, but the damage this causes depends on the species, the density of weed, the competitive ability of the crop and the growth stage when the crop and weeds compete.

Some weeds might be highly competitive, while others pose little threat and can be left uncontrolled and may be valuable for wildlife. Most grassweeds fall into the highly competitive segment.

4. By stopping seed set

While by this stage weeds may have competed with the crop, as with preventing seed return, preventing seed set reduces weed seed production and in turn reduces the seedbank for future years.

This matters most with weeds that are difficult to control, such as grassweeds resistant to herbicides, and is easiest when weed populations are low. Hand rogueing, for example, can be a crucial tactic to prevent early-stage infestations from becoming a larger problem.

5. By applying good on-farm hygiene

Stopping weed seeds arriving on farm through good hygiene, for example on machinery, in seed, straw, compost or sewage sludge is a key step in managing weed spread.

There’s plenty of evidence that machinery has been a key factor in the spread of blackgrass, so for example insisting contractors blow down combines or balers before coming onto your farm is good practice.

The same applies to when moving machinery from a heavily infested field to prevent a weed problem spreading from field to field.

So why does this matter? Part one of building any good integrated weed management plan is considering your target weeds life cycle and how you can use as many of those opportunities to disrupt its ability to be successful and spread. If you can target weeds at more than one stage during the season, there’s a greater chance of a sustainable strategy.

What types of tactics are available to control weeds?

While herbicides are by far the most common form of weed control, and particularly for grassweeds, used proactively rather than reactively – e.g. pre-emergence rather than post-emergence, there are a surprisingly large number of alternative tactics that can be used.

But unlike herbicides where if a weed is sensitive, and for grassweeds that is obviously a big ‘if’, control can be close to 100%, most other weed control approaches need to be integrated with a good knowledge of weed biology to be successful.

The 2019 AHDB ‘Research Review: Weed control options and future opportunities for UK crops’ (PDF) breaks down weed control tactics into seven distinct types: cultural, non-chemical, chemical, novel and emerging technologies, digital tools, genetic tools and preventative weed control.

In total the report describes over 50 different potential tactics that could be used, ranging from the common such as existing chemistry, rotation, drilling date and cultivations to emerging ideas, such as remote sensing and CRISPR technology.

Building a good integrated weed management plan will use as many of these as required to diversify weed management and reduce reliance on herbicides. Where possible IWM will also promote the use of site-specific weed management and target applications to reduce herbicide impacts.

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Possible tool in the war on resistant weeds

Wallaces Farmer

Prashant JhaRedekop Seed Control Unit harvesting soybeans

NO RESISTANCE TO STEEL: Iowa State University is among the leading places in the U.S. to put the Redekop Seed Control Unit to the test — including on a field in Story County, Iowa, and in Harrison County, Iowa, on a field owned by Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program participant Larry Buss.For the second year, ISU is testing a Redekop Seed Control Unit on Iowa farm fields to determine the economic feasibility of harvest weed-seed control.

Tyler Harris | Oct 25, 2021

Larry Buss often says, “I haven’t seen any weeds yet that are resistant to steel.” Steel can refer to preplant tillage, cultivation — or in more recent cases, mechanical control of harvested weed seed.

Ever since Palmer amaranth was identified in Harrison County, Iowa, in 2013, Buss has been vigilant in doing his part to slow the spread of herbicide resistant weeds in Iowa and across the continent — spreading the word with national organizations like the Weed Science Society of America and Entomological Society of America, and at international events like the Manitoba Agronomists Conference and the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Annual Conference.

A Redekop unit being tested on 500 acres of soybeans in Story County last year to kill waterhemp seed at harvest
REDUCED WEED SEED BANK: A Redekop unit was tested on 500 acres of soybeans in Story County last year to kill waterhemp seed at harvest. “We had about 90% or more kill efficacy for waterhemp — and that was a multiple herbicide-resistant waterhemp population in soybean,” says Prashant Jha, ISU associate professor and Extension weed specialist. (Photo by Prashant Jha)

These efforts grew with the launch of the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program in 2017. Since then, Buss has collaborated with Iowa State University researchers, agronomists, landowners, crop consultants, ag lenders and commodity organizations to monitor the spread of resistance on farms in Harrison County, and test different practices and herbicide programs to control weeds like Palmer amaranth, waterhemp, marestail and giant ragweed.

Most recently, this involves harvest weed-seed techniques — more specifically, using a Redekop Seed Control Unit. Designed to be used with a John Deere combine, the Redekop unit uses high-impact mills to break the seed through physical destruction as it comes out of the back of the combine, killing the seed and preventing germination. According to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Redekop, the unit can destroy as much as 98% or more of weed-seed germination during harvest. The unit also allows the operator to turn it on and off on the go.

“I have a few weeds at a field by Dunlap, so we’re going to test it up there,” Buss says. “Then, we are going to get a sample of the weed seed behind the combine to see if the unit helps with germination destruction.”ADVERTISING

Off to a good start

Iowa is one of the first states the unit has been tested in the U.S. — it was tested by Prashant Jha, an ISU associate professor and Extension weed specialist in 2020 at a farm in Story County.

Jha notes one Redekop unit was tested on 500 acres of soybeans in Story County last year, with promising results for controlling waterhemp seed at harvest. However, he notes the study is ongoing.

“We had about 90% or more kill efficacy for waterhemp — and that was a multiple-herbicide-resistant waterhemp population in soybean,” Jha says. “We don’t know what level of resistance those waterhemp plants had, but they had survived multiple applications, and that’s why it made perfect sense to do some harvest weed-seed control. The same is true in Harrison County — they have populations resistant to Group 9 as well as Group 2 [herbicides] and most likely PPO and HPPD inhibitors.”

This year, after running the seed destructor in soybean fields, Jha will monitor the changes in weed seed bank density over time by collecting soil core samples in the fall, and then counting weed emergence in the following spring.

“We will estimate how much of the initial weed-seed bank has emerged and how much has survived herbicide applications, and how many weeds are present at harvest and the weed-seed-kill efficacy of the Redekop seed unit,” Jha says.

Economic feasibility

Of course, one of the big questions to be answered is: At what point does it become economically feasible to use harvest weed-seed control? Jha notes while the Redekop unit costs about $70,000, it will take time to determine how long it takes to pay for the machine by reducing the weed-seed bank.

Waterhemp
PROBLEM WEEDS: Since 2017, growers, agronomists, Extension educators and other stakeholders in Harrison County have studied herbicide resistance in weeds as part of the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program. This includes some key problem weeds in the area: Palmer amaranth (pictured), waterhemp, giant ragweed and marestail. (Photo by Bob Hartzler)

“It won’t happen in one year, but we expect at least a 90% reduction in the seed bank,” he says. “There will be some header/thresher loss — probably close to 25% to 30%. Kevin Bradley at the University of Missouri has seen close to 25% header loss, and some of the weed seeds are getting shattered. We had close to 30% to 33% header loss last year. It’s not stand-alone, but we expect that, of the remaining 67% to 70% seed going inside the unit, 95% will be killed.”

And there are other factors — like the potential savings on herbicide application costs in the future.

“There are millions of dollars right now going into managing herbicide resistance in corn and soybeans,” Jha adds.

“If you calculate the cost of three applications in a season — burndown, pre- and postresidual — can we cut that cost by reducing the weed-seed bank in a three- to four- year time frame, and increase the longevity of the herbicide? More importantly, we are quickly running out of herbicide options because of multiple-herbicide-resistant waterhemp and Palmer amaranth populations,” Jha says.

Last-resort option

Larry Buss notes that for the time being, the best method for weed control is to keep them from competing with crops during the growing season, by controlling them upfront and preventing them from going to seed and expanding the weed-seed bank.

Larry Buss speaks at a field day
SPREADING THE WORD: Larry Buss speaks at a field day as part of a Weed Science Society of America and Entomological Society of America event in this 2019 photo. Buss notes that growers in Harrison County and across Iowa are getting the message that weeds must be controlled early on with a full rate and multiples modes of action. (Photo by Ethan Stoetzer)

“I’m not going to spend money on it yet, because I would prefer to invest it in a better sprayer or a more robust herbicide program. If herbicide resistance continues to get worse, we can use harvest weed-seed methods to significantly reduce the weed-seed bank, because it’s going to wipe out the weed mechanically,” he adds. “Weeds won’t be resistant to steel, so you can kill it with preplant tillage, cultivation — or you kill the seed with the Redekop Seed Control Unit. But before we do that, I think farmers will look to control weeds upfront so they don’t compete with the crop.”

And, Buss notes the outreach efforts of the Pest Resistance Management Program are paying off — while herbicide resistance continues to be a challenge, people are aware it’s a problem and are taking steps to slow its spread.

“I’m going to pat ourselves, in Harrison County and the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program, on the back,” he says. “Because I think we’re getting the message out that we’ve got to control weeds early on with a full rate of herbicide, and multiples modes of action.”

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Lentil breeding advances set to continue

North Queensland Register

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard@grheard20 Oct 2021, 3 p.m.Grains

Agriculture Victoria lentil breeder Arun Shunmugam with a promising line of yet to be commercially released lentils in a trial at the pulse trial site at Propodollah, near Nhill, last week.

 Agriculture Victoria lentil breeder Arun Shunmugam with a promising line of yet to be commercially released lentils in a trial at the pulse trial site at Propodollah, near Nhill, last week.Aa

IN A YEAR with many contenders for most lucrative crop lentils are making a solid charge.

Values are in excess of $1000 a tonne, primarily in light of a lack of product from the world’s largest exporter of the legume, Canada, and an easing of tariffs from the world’s largest importer, India.https://7d116f708d3262b63c59ece0b6732cc5.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

RELATED: New field peas

It has farmers in the lentil belt through Victoria and South Australia excited about this year’s harvest, with a kind season in regions such as the Wimmera meaning many crops are displaying outstanding yield potential.

Given the buzz around the crop at present it is no wonder lentils were one of the major talking points at last week’s Southern Pulse Field Day near Nhill in Victoria’s Wimmera.

Agriculture Victoria pulse breeders Jason Brand and Arun Shunmugam said there were a number of promising new developments in the lentil breeding pipeline.

In particular two cultivars yet to be commercialised are performing well in trials, with Dr Brand saying there was huge yield potential in the two lines.

Dr Shunmugam said other focuses of breeders included looking to incorporate more frost resistant genetic material along with further advances in herbicide resistant and tolerant varieties.

The crowd at the Nhill field day said Clearfield / imi-tolerant lines such as Hallmark and Hurricane were popular as they gave flexibility within the rotation and reduced the plant-back risk when planted following another Clearfield line.

Dr Brand said frost and waterlogging tolerance remained two key objectives.

He said there was a complex interaction which meant plants just metres apart could fare vastly differently.

“You can see even in the trials here that some plants look like they’ve incurred frost damage and just a couple of metres away with slightly different soil type and slightly higher up they are unaffected.

“Some form of tolerance to both these stresses would be a great win for the industry,” Dr Brand said.

He said the breeding sector wanted feedback from growers about what herbicide tolerance traits were wanted.

“It is a complex one as we have to manage market expectations and maximum residue limits in with what is going to work well agronomically, but we’re really keen to hear what growers would be interested in seeing in future varieties,” he said.

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India gets first herbicide-tolerant & non-GM rice varieties; launch today

Indian Express, Oct. 19, 2021

The varieties — Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985 — contain a mutated acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene making it possible for farmers to spray Imazethapyr, a broad-spectrum herbicide, to control weeds.

  • I

Written by Harish Damodaran | New Delhi |
Updated: September 28, 2021 7:37:06 am

IARI director AK Singh at a trial field containing both herbicide-tolerant basmati and normal basmati (left plot), whose plants have been killed along with weeds after spraying Imazethapyr. (Photo by Harish Damodaran)

The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed the country’s first-ever non-GM (genetically modified) herbicide-tolerant rice varieties that can be directly seeded and significantly save water and labour compared to conventional transplanting.

The varieties — Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985 — contain a mutated acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene making it possible for farmers to spray Imazethapyr, a broad-spectrum herbicide, to control weeds. This dispenses with the need to prepare nurseries where paddy seeds are first raised into young plants, before being uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field.

The two new varieties are scheduled to be officially released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.https://56428c50993d1e8aab4b4fb64a9125c7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlRead |Need to think of ‘respectable jobs’ for landless and small farm households: NITI Aayog member

Paddy transplantation is both labour- and water-intensive. The field where the seedlings are transplanted has to be “puddled” or tilled in standing water. For the first three weeks or so after transplanting, the plants are irrigated almost daily to maintain a water depth of 4-5 cm. Farmers continue giving water every two-three days even for the next four-five weeks when the crop is in tillering (stem development) stage.

“Water is a natural herbicide that takes care of weeds in the paddy crop’s early-growth period. The new varieties simply replace water with Imazethapyr and there’s no need for nursery, puddling, transplanting and flooding of fields. You can sow paddy directly, just like wheat,” said A K Singh, director of IARI.Top News Right Now

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Imazethapyr, effective against a range of broadleaf, grassy and sedge weeds, can’t be used on normal paddy, as the chemical does not distinguish between the crop and the invasive plants. The ALS gene in rice codes for an enzyme (protein) that synthesises amino acids for crop growth and development. The herbicide sprayed on normal rice plants binds itself to the ALS enzymes, inhibiting their production of amino acids.

The new basmati varieties contain an ALS gene whose DNA sequence has been altered using ethyl methanesulfonate, a chemical mutant. As a result, the ALS enzymes no longer have binding sites for Imazethapyr and amino acid synthesis isn’t inhibited. The plants can also now “tolerate” application of the herbicide, and hence it kills only the weeds.Also Read |India must shed obsession with ‘marginal farmers’. Their future lies outside farms — in dairy, poultry, food retail

“This is herbicide-tolerance through mutation breeding, not GM. There isn’t any foreign gene here,” Singh pointed out.

Both Pusa Basmati 1979 and 1985 have been bred by crossing existing popular varieties — Pusa 1121 and Pusa 1509, respectively — with ‘Robin’. The latter is a mutant line derived from Nagina 22, an upland drought-tolerant rice variety. The mutant was identified for Imazethapyr-tolerance by S Robin, a rice breeder from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore.Also Read |For easy access to schemes, Govt plans 12-digit unique ID for farmers, database

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are already adopting direct seeding of rice (DSR) in response to labour shortages and depleting water tables. This year alone, roughly 6 lakh of the total 44.3 lakh hectares area under paddy in the two states has come under DSR.

DSR cultivation is currently based on two herbicides, Pendimethalin (applied within 72 hours of sowing) and Bispyribac-sodium (after 18-20 days). As Singh pointed out, “These are costlier than Imazethapyr (Rs 1,500 versus Rs 300/acre). Imazethapyr, moreover, has a wider weed-control range and is safer, as the ALS gene isn’t present in humans and mammals. Even in the herbicide-tolerant rice, the chemical will target only the weeds.”

https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/show/0ygP4jm9c9SdqUM3C6DycM

Transplantation in paddy typically requires about 30 irrigations, each consuming some 5 hectare-cm of water (one hectare-cm equals 100,000 litres). Puddling alone takes up about 15 hectare-cm. In all, DSR is estimated to need 30 per cent less water, save Rs 3,000 per acre in transplantation labour charges, and also 10-15 days’ time due to no nursery preparation.

But DSR’s success hinges on an effective herbicide solution — like breeding Imazethapyr-tolerant varieties.

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University of Florida offers online course on weed management and hydroponic vegetables

Weed Management runs from October 18 to November 12, 2021, and has been approved for CEUs in the state of Florida. It is taught by Dr. Chris Marble, assistant professor of ornamental and landscape weed management in the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida. Growers in the course have described him as an instructor who “is very methodical and easy to learn from” who presents “weed management in an in-depth, clear manner.”

Hydroponic Vegetable Production runs from October 25 to November 19, 2021. The course is taught by a team of instructors from the University of Florida and Cornell University. The team includes Bob Hochmuth, Assistant Center Director for the UF/IFAS North Florida Research & Education Center at Live Oak and Regional Specialized Extension Agent for commercial vegetable crops, and Tatiana Sanchez, Commercial Horticulture Agent for UF/IFAS in Alachua County. Past participants have liked “how the course walked me through all aspects of hydroponics” and described the instructors as “attentive, responsive, and enthusiastic.”

Each course costs $US249 per participant, with a 20% discount if you register five or more. The courses are held entirely online and include pre-recorded videos, an interactive discussion board with Ph.D. professors, and quizzes. Course material is available any time of the day in English and in Spanish, and two new modules are activated each week during each course, for a total of 8 learning modules. Click here to register (http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/).For more information:
UF/IFAS
www.ifas.ufl.edu

Publication date: Wed 29 Sep 2021

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The prototype will be presented at Macfrut by the Italian company Bagioni

How to weed organic asparagus mechanically

A system that keeps the asparagus field clean of weeds, through mechanical weeding, without increasing costs is Aurenzo Bagioni’s latest solution which will be presented at Macfrut, during the Asparagus Days.

The Forlì-based company Bagioni, which already produces asparagus harvesting machines, will present this new concept in Rimini, Italy. This accessory is mounted on the back of the asparagus harvesting machines and is particularly aimed at organic farms but can also be used by those who cultivate using conventional methods. Basically, the concept is based on a weeder that allows the central part (30-50 centimeters) – where the asparagus grows – to remain free, but moves the soil laterally at each harvesting operation, to an adjustable depth of 1-3 centimeters. You don’t have to do any extra work, but the device works when you harvest.

Given that the harvest takes place every day, the idea was to attach a weeder to the back of the machine, keeping the central 50 centimeters free for the asparagus to grow. This daily operation should keep the soil moving and prevent the grass from growing.

We had already seen this prototype in June 2021, but Bagioni asked not to announce it until the end of August, because he was thinking of filing a patent.

“This concept is being presented with the aim of understanding whether the idea is interesting to customers and then possibly start building it,” concluded the owner.

For more information: 
Bagioni Alfiero Snc 
Via Bologna 100
47121 Forlì – Italy
+39 0543 703993
bagioni.aurenzo@libero.it
www.asparagus.it  

Publication date: Thu 26 Aug 2021

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Pigweed shows resistance in spots to glyphosate, ALS, HPPD and PPOs

Eric Jones/NCSU_Eric Jones_NCSU-Waterhemp.jpgWes Everman urges farmers to be on the lookout for water hemp on their farms.Everman stresses the importance of pre-emergent herbicides, postemergent herbicides and residuals.

John Hart | Aug 24, 2021SUGGESTED EVENT

Events Page - Farm Progress Show 2021

Farm Progress ShowAug 31, 2021 to Sep 02, 2021

North Carolina State University Extension Weed Specialist Wes Everman continues to urge North Carolina farmers to be on the lookout for resistant waterhemp, redroot pigweed and Palmer amaranth across the state.

Speaking at the Blacklands Farm Managers Tour Aug. 4 at Turnpike Farms in Pantego, N.C., Everman said Palmer amaranth is now showing resistance in spots across North Carolina to glyphosate, ALS, HPPD and PPO technologies. He noted that testing is also underway to see if Palmer amarnath is resistant to atrazine. He also said resistant redroot pigweed is popping up in spots across the state. https://dc33b5251deac1ea475e6c827fe410e1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Once again, Everman urged farmers to use multiple modes of action as the key to resistance management. He stressed the importance of pre-emergent herbicides, postemergent herbicides and residuals.

“I see folks going out with jut 2,4-D, just dicamba, or just Liberty with no residual in the tank, no other  product in the tank. That’s a recipe for disaster,” Everman told the crowd at the Blacklands tour.

Everman noted that when one product quits working, farmers shift to another and then switch again and switch again. “We don’t get away from resistance by doing that. We want to use these residuals, our Group 15s, Dual, Warrant, Zidua, and our Group 14s, Valor, Spartan and Reflex.”ADVERTISING

The use of both pre-emergence and postemergence herbicides is a must. He said such products as Flexstar, Cobra and Blazer can generally be used across the farm. He also said metribuzin is generally a safe option as well. He stressed the importance of rotating Liberty, Enlist and Xtend traits.

“If we can rotate them in a season, even better. We can’t just pick one technology and wear it out and then hope to go to the next. I don’t think that’s going to work, and we’re only talking about three products. How long do we have if we don’t start switching now?” Everman said.

Everman pointed out the new weeds are coming into the state primarily through equipment that is purchased from Midwestern states and then brought into North Carolina. He also said waterfowl can move weed seed from one part of the state to another. He said it has been confirmed that water hemp was introduced into North Carolina from a combine purchased in the Midwest and brought to North Carolina.

He urged farmers to be on the lookout for water hemp on their farms. It is different than Palmer and redroot pigweed in that it has thin leaves and shorter petioles. He said it is hairless, like Palmer.

“If you have a weed that looks like it might be Palmer, but looks a little funny, get in touch with your county agent or Charlie (Cahoon, also a North Carolina State Extension weed specialist) or me. We want to make sure. We don’t want to see water hemp pop up in too many places,” Everman said.

In addition to keeping an eye out for water hemp, redroot pigweed and Palmer amaranth, Everman urged Blackland farmers to be on the lookout for common ragweed. He said just north of the Blacklands, in northeastern North Carolina, common ragweed has shown three-way resistance to glyphosate, ALS and PPO inhibitors.

“It (common ragweed) could move on equipment down here. Water hemp came to North Carolina from the Midwest. Pretty much everything we have identified in North Carolina has moved on equipment. They brought it here and they brought along seed issues,” he said.

“The No. 1 piece you can move weed seeds with is a combine. If you have a weedy patch, if you’re bringing a combine from another farm, if you’re getting help from somebody, if you have time and you have the opportunity, clean that thing from front to back. Try  to get as much seed out of it as you can. This is an inherited problem, something that came along with the equipment,” Everman said.

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Is THIS the key to wiping out ? Removal of moisture has a 100% success rate at killing the invasive plant – and is much more effective than herbicide, study finds

  • Scientists said removing moisture from Japanese knotweed kills invasive plant
  • They had a ‘100 per cent success rate’ after drying out plants in lab conditions
  • Their discovery shows that the plant it ‘not as indestructible’, researchers said
  • Japanese knotweed is a plant found in many areas of Europe and North America

By SAM TONKIN FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 07:06 EDT, 19 August 2021 | UPDATED: 07:39 EDT, 19 August 2021

Japanese knotweed is a devastatingly invasive plant that can leave homeowners and gardeners in a bind. 

But scientists might just have a new solution on how to kill it that they say is much more effective than herbicide.

It involves removing moisture from the plants by drying them out in a lab, although researchers said more tests in the field are needed to see how this would work in the real world before any advice or commercial product is made available to the public.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.476.0_en.html#goog_1797203280PauseNext video0:24Full-screenRead More

The study by the National University of Ireland Galway and University of Leeds found that removing moisture had a ‘100 per cent success rate’ in killing Japanese knotweed, which can break through bricks, concrete and mortar.

Their discovery shows that the plant is ‘not as indestructible’ as thought, according to the study’s co-author Dr Mark Fennell.Scientists might just have a new solution on how to kill Japanese knotweed that they say is much more effective than herbicide. Pictured are some of the samples they experimented with+6

Scientists might just have a new solution on how to kill Japanese knotweed that they say is much more effective than herbicide. Pictured are some of the samples they experimented withJapanese knotweed (pictured) is a problematic plant found in many areas of Europe and North America. Notably, in the UK, the species can cause issues with mortgage acquisition+6

Japanese knotweed (pictured) is a problematic plant found in many areas of Europe and North America. Notably, in the UK, the species can cause issues with mortgage acquisition

Japanese knotweed 

Japanese Knotweed is a species of plant that has bamboo-like stems and small white flowers.

Native to Japan, the plant is considered an invasive species. 

The plant, scientific name Fallopia japonica, was brought to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental garden plant and to line railway tracks to stabilise the soil.

It has no natural enemies in the UK, whereas in Asia it is controlled by fungus and insects.

In the US it is scheduled as an invasive weed in 12 states, and can be found in a further 29.

It is incredibly durable and fast-growing, and can seriously damage buildings and construction sites if left unchecked.

The notorious plant strangles other plants and can kill entire gardens. 

Capable of growing eight inches in one day it deprives other plants of their key nutrients and water.https://5772890968515b3f00a684ae0e95aa20.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The research found that incorrect herbicide treatment cannot control the growth and regeneration of Japanese knotweed, but that fully drying the plant material in a lab environment allowed it to be returned to the soil without risk of regrowth.

It also showed that if there are no nodes attached to the rhizomes (root-like underground shoots) there is no regeneration. Nodes are the points on a plant’s stem where buds and leaves originate.

Senior author of the study, Dr Karen Bacon, from NUI Galway, said: ‘Our finding that the removal of moisture has a 100 per cent success rate on killing Japanese knotweed plants and preventing regrowth after they were replanted also raises an important potential means of management for smaller infestations that are common in urban environments.’

She said it ‘requires additional field trials’ that her university hopes to carry out soon.

Japanese knotweed is a problematic plant found in many areas of Europe and North America. Notably, in the UK, the species can cause issues with mortgage acquisition. 

It can grow up to 10ft in height and can dominate an area to the exclusion of most other plants. 

Controlling Japanese knotweed is complicated by its ability to regenerate from small fragments of plant material; however, there remains uncertainty about how much rhizome is required and how likely successful regeneration is under different scenarios. 

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