Südzucker AG, in association with Amazone and FarmDroid, is testing a solution for the precise application of crop protection agents in sugar beet cultivation.
The group hopes to minimise the use of herbicides and insecticides with the innovative solution.
Südzucker plans to utilise the automated, solar-powered FarmDroid FD20 sowing and weeding robot and a special spot-spraying method.
Initial scientifically monitored trials are currently underway on a test field at Südzucker's research farm in Kirschgartshausen near Mannheim.
The FarmDroid FD20 robot is already being used on organic farms for sowing and mechanical weed control in sugar beets and other crops.
The field robot first sows sugar beet seeds in a precise grid using its highly accurate GPS sowing system.
The robot knows the exact position of the beets and subsequently hoes around this position, i.e. next to and between the rows, when removing weeds.
However, in the immediate vicinity of the plant, it is difficult to remove all weeds without touching the beet plant.
Amazone utilises FarmDroids unique knowledge of the plant position, and based on this, Amazone has developed an innovative, precise field spraying system.
This makes it possible to apply the herbicide precisely onto or next to the beet - with minimal use of the crop protection agent.
Südzucker is currently testing this unique development on a trial field covering about one hectare.
Dr Peter Risser, head of the Kirschgartshausen research farm, commented, "Our initial trials are promising and impressively demonstrate the reduction potential of crop protection products when applied with pinpoint accuracy.
"The results of the field tests on the weeds will have to show whether the effect can keep pace with the standard treatment used today."
Risser commented on possible future uses for the solution, saying, "The technology is also interesting for pest control or for fertilising with micronutrients via the sugar beet leaf. This is also an exciting, future-oriented possible application for organic farming."