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A self-driving farm robot that kills 100,000 weeds an hour might save the land from herbicides

by Sangam Paudel, Nov 15
1 minute read

Equipped with lasers typically used for metal cutting and guided by high resolution cameras connected to AI systems, Carbon Robotics’ self-driving farm robot Laserweeder is able to kill 100,000 weeds an hour. The use of the Laserweder is intended to reduce herbicide use on land and improve soil health.

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So what?

Excessive use of herbicides to kill ever-resistant weed varieties has taken a toll on soil health and led to increased soil depletion. Consequently, farmers increase fertilizer use to make up for the lost nutrients. Production of these chemicals are carbon-intensive and nutrient runoff further pollutes downstream sources.

The use of mechanical means – such as the Laserweeder – to remove weeds reduces the amount of herbicide necessary for farming, while also slowing the dangerous development of herbicide-resistant weeds and the nutrient pollution of water sources. Mechanical weeding might also allow the nutrients from weeds to re-enter the soil, thus aiding soil nutrient retention.

Ultimately however, maintaining soil health will require a greater consideration of the processes necessary for soil regeneration. The impact of this technology will depend on whether it contributes to intensified farming or to more soil-friendly agriculture methods.

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by Sangam Paudel Spotted 39 signals

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