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All-Mechanical In-Row Weeder Cleans Rows Fast
Andy Lysaght has an inter-plant weeder that eliminates hand weeding in high-value, precision placed crops. However, unlike other mechanized or robotic in-row weeders, the “Andweeder” requires no computers, circuit boards or programming.
  “Adjustment requires only a wrench,” says Lysaght, Plant Detection Systems, Ltd. “The units are not computerized. The sensing is all done by touch, which triggers the hoes.”
  The prototype Andweeder consists of individual row units with mechanical hoes and sensing fingers. As the unit passes a plant, the sensor activates hoes to either side. The hoes flash back and forth stirring the dirt until the sensors touch the next plant.
  “We have successfully weeded between the plants in rows of 20-in. tall field corn and 12-in. tall and 16-in. wide squash,” says Lysaght. “The machine can identify individual plants, even when there is a full canopy. That’s something that infrared vision systems cannot do as far as I’m aware.”
  The Andweeder can work in rows as narrow as 16 in., but work is being done to get row spacings down to 12 in. or less. The minimum distance between plants is 4 in.
  “We can travel at approximately 0.6 mph with 4-in. spacings and approximately 3 mph with 20-in. spacings,” says Lysaght. The top speed is a little over 3.3 mph.
  The hoes are activated by compressed air at a maximum speed of 3 times per second per unit. Plant spacing within the row determines maximum travel speed.
  Initially the prototype had its own engine for powering the compressor. A more recent generation uses a pto-driven compressor. The prototype has 3 units on a toolbar, each unit protected by a cowling.
  Developed initially for cultivating squash, the Andweeder is now being tested on a variety of other plants. Lysaght estimates a sale price of around $75,000 for a 3-row unit. It requires a second operator to adjust the unit side to side hydraulically to match variations in row width.
  “Side shift can be automated using GPS or infrared detectors if desired,” says Lysaght. “We’ll leave choice of that technology to the customer, so he can go with what he is comfortable with.”
  You can see the Andweeder in action at www.farmshow.com.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Andweeder, P.O. Box 2032, Stortford Lodge, Hastings 4153, New Zealand (andylysaght@xtra.co.nz; www.plantdetectionsystems.com).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5