Knowledge for better food systems

Robotic weeders could replace herbicides

This feature in the New Food Economy explores how autonomous weed-picking robots could replace herbicides and tackle weeds that have become resistant to some herbicides. The robots use both GPS tracking and cameras to navigate fields and remove weeds.

The feature suggests that weeding robots could be particularly advantageous for organic farmers, and could reduce labour costs for weeding from around $1000 to $200 per acre. However, each robot - built by Naïo Technologies - costs $120,000 and they are unable to distinguish between crop plants and weeds, weeding only in the spaces between crop rows.

A new version, which can visually distinguish between weeds and crop plants, is under development.

Read the full story here. See also the Foodsource resource How do food systems contribute to water pollution?

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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