Weeding between the rows and the crop

Mechanically managing weeds in a row crop without majorly impacting the crop itself can be difficult. Weeds that sit between the rows of a row crop do not generally pose a major threat, as they can be managed with fairly basic implements, such as interrow cultivators. But eliminating the weeds that grow in an individual crop row, among the crop plants, without massively disturbing the crop can be a serious challenge.

Garford Farm Machinery’s Robocrop InRow weeder is an option for farmers of row crops that are looking for a mechanical-based solution to their in-row weeding needs.

The implement uses cameras to take images that are analyzed by the Robocrop computer to determine the exact locations of the crop plants. The machine then uses this information to adjust the rotational speed of its weeding discs so that it works everything within crop rows except for the plants themselves.

The camera-based system utilized by the InRow weeder allows the machine to make automatic adjustments that keep it effective in situations where variability may be present. When row spacing is not perfectly consistent, for instance, the robot will speed up or slow down the rotation of the weeding discs to make sure that weeds remain the only plants destroyed by the InRow weeder.

InRow’s first rank of tools rotate around the crop plants, avoiding them and lightly cultivating the space in-between. Three following ranks of spring shanks cultivate between the rows, cleaning up the rest of the weeds. | Garford photo

The weeding discs are shaped in a crescent to allow them to comfortably arc around and cut between plants. The discs rotate around a fixed axis which let them dip in and out of rows consistently. They are most often set to cultivate between plants at a fairly shallow operational depth of 1-2 centimetres.

Garford says its camera and rotating disc system is accurate enough to treat all weeds that are 8 mm or more from the stems of individual crop plants. The manufacturer claims that any weeds growing closer to the plants than 8 mm will most likely be out-competed by the crop, making it unnecessary for the Robocrop InRow weeder’s discs to come any closer to the plants.

Six-metre versions of the implement have been the largest provided to-date, but larger variations of the machine are available according to the manufacturer. The 6 metre, 12 row version of the Robocrop InRow weeder requires 150 horsepower to operate.

As the crops grow larger the machine adapts to the size of the plants, managing each plant individually. | Garford photo

Garford’s Robocrop InRow weeder is a good fit for growers of vegetables and other crops that are grown in rows with defined plant spacing and that traditionally require manual labour to manage weeds. Especially when taking into consideration how difficult it can be to find folks that are willing to do manual labour for any significant period of time in the modern day agriculture industry, it is not hard to see an implement that can quickly and effectively eliminate hard-to-reach weeds become a major asset on a variety of row crop operations.

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