Kilter’s autonomous weeding robot for precision farming, the AX-1, aims herbicide droplets directly at weeds without hitting the crop or soil. “We want to bring balance back to mother nature and be a part of the shift towards a better use of natural resources,” says Kilter’s CEO, Anders Brevik.
Herbicides are key to profitability in conventional farming. However, excessive use of herbicides has substantial health and environmental impacts. Residues are often found in crops, soil and waterways, posing a serious risk for agricultural workers and society at large.
Vegetable fields are typically blanket-sprayed four to six times per season, and many weeds develop herbicide resistance.
Kilter AX-1 promotes sustainable agriculture through more efficient, healthier and higher-quality food production. Reducing herbicide usage by 95 per cent, the AX-1 is the most precise and efficient autonomous weeding robot available.
“Our solution solves farmers’ weed problem, which can be difficult and costly to address. The farmers who have used Kilter AX-1 are extremely happy,” says Brevik.
A machine vision system maps its way by identifying the shape and position of every weed and crop. Simultaneously the patented nozzle matrix aims individual droplets of herbicide at the weed leaves without touching the crop or soil. The nozzle even hits weeds entangled in the crop, enabling the use of novel weeding agents for herbicide-sensitive vegetable crops.
For farmers facing the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds, the AX-1 enables the use of other conventional or environmentally safe weeding agents such as concentrated fertiliser. If vinegar is approved for use as an herbicide for agriculture, the technology will have huge potential for organic production as well.
Kilter AX-1 increases crop yields as it aims the herbicide directly on weeds without exposing the crops. It potentially increases the value of a harvest as it produces higher quality food without herbicide residue.
“As farmers use our technology, they will see lower operating costs, higher crop yields and higher profits,” says Brevik.
The AX-1 is currently the only solution for intra-row weeding in sowed cultures. Moreover, it improves working conditions and reduces occupational and public exposure to herbicides and associated health hazards.
The world population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050, a 32 per cent increase from 2015. To meet the demand for food, production will need to increase by some 25 to 75 per cent above current levels. With a reduced rural labour force and a limited amount of arable land, the development of new farming methods is imperative.
Precision farming can be used to step up food production and quality, while reducing herbicide use, cost and environmental impact. The emerging global market for robotic technology in agriculture was some USD 3.5 billion in 2016. It is expected to become one of the largest markets for robots in the world, reaching roughly USD 70 billion by 2024.
Fully automated robot for precision farming
Herbicide is aimed directly at weeds without hitting crops
Reduces use of herbicides by 95%