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Bosch and BASF expand their cooperation for digital agriculture
Since 2016, employees of the two companies have already been working together on the smart spraying project, a technology for precise herbicide application that significantly reduces the total amount of herbicides used. The market launch of Smart Spraying is planned for 2021. Further joint activities are planned.
“Bringing the team members together in a dedicated center of competence pools their expertise and increases the potential for synergies as a result of the direct channels of communication and coordination within the project group,” said Andrew Allen, responsible for the Commercial Vehicles and Off-Road operating unit at Robert Bosch GmbH.
The smart spraying concept by Bosch and xarvio focuses on the precise application of herbicides in the field to control weeds. With the smart spraying solution, Bosch and xarvio provide a smart system that can differentiate a weed from a crop plant and applies herbicides in a targeted manner.
As the sprayer passes over the field, its on-board cameras record the vegetation over the entire area. A smart spraying management system analyzes the sensor signals online and identifies the presence of a crop plant or weed. The system then controls the sprayer jets and the herbicide is applied as needed. Weed-free areas, on the other hand, remain herbicide-free. The entire procedure – scanning, identification, and application – takes just a few milliseconds and is performed in a single processing step.
Bosch’s focus in the research and development cooperation is on the camera sensor technology, image processing and pattern recognition, control units, and system connectivity. “In daily practical use in the field, the field sprayer with the smart spraying technology is connected to the xarvio FIELD MANAGER, which uses various parameters to determine precisely which and how much plant protection product the respective crop needs,” explained Tobias Menne, head of BASF Digital Farming. xarvio FIELD MANAGER is a digital solution that helps farmers make agronomic decisions in various areas of their work. The aim is to achieve more efficient and eco-friendly cultivation that ensures optimal use of each section of field. Farmers can at any time view the field status, obtain recommendations for each field, and download a set of maps that indicate the application recommendations for each of the individual field zones.
Initial field trials with prototypes in Europe and in South and North America yielded extremely positive results. “One of the next steps on the road to readying the system for the market is optimization of the sprayer’s resolution to achieve even more precise herbicide application,” said Andrew Allen.