Site-specific weed control for ginger cropping systems
The University of Sydney
Project code: PRJ-011627
Project stage: Closed
Project start date: Monday, July 1, 2019
Project completion date: Sunday, July 31, 2022
National Priority: GIN-Technology and innovation
Australian ginger growers face a significant threat from weeds with limited opportunities for in-crop weed control and estimated substantial yield reductions of 60 to 80%. With limited available herbicide treatments and a lack of suitable application technology, growers rely on manual weeding (spot spraying and hand pulling) for in-crop weed control. This requires the use of a significant labour force, with associated high costs. This approach carries a high risk of crop damage associated with the off-target crop damage from spot-spraying and hand pulling. These risks can be mitigated through the development of high precision site-specific weed control methods.
The proposed project will seek to:
- Identify alternative herbicide treatments for site-specific selective weed control in ginger cropping systems compatible with automation.
- Develop site-specific application technologies suited for use on autonomous platforms in ginger cropping systems.
- Test and develop lightweight autonomous platform designs, specifically for use in ginger production systems.
Initial pot experiments will evaluate potential alternative herbicide treatments identified via a review of relevant literature and industry consultation. These preliminary screening studies will guide future field evaluations with the aim of identifying site-specific herbicide treatment options.
In parallel with the identification of novel herbicide treatments, site-specific spray technologies for in-field weed control will be developed and tested. These will include weed recognition systems allowing the precision application of herbicide treatments specifically to weeds only. The final project stage will focus on the development of a suitable platform that enables the autonomous delivery of site-specific weed control treatments.
The University of Sydney
The overall objective of this project is to improve weed control opportunities in ginger cropping systems that significantly reduce costs and application risks by reducing the reliance on manual spot spraying and hand weeding. Within this objective are the two aims of i) identification of alternative herbicide treatments for site-specific application and ii) development of site-specific technologies suited to autonomous use in ginger crops.
Project development stages:
- Herbicide screening for identification of alternative selective and non-selective herbicide treatments (years 1-2)
- Concurrent development of site-specific technology for selective control of weeds in ginger (years 1-3)
- Refined weed identification and precision herbicide treatment application (years 2-3)
- Autonomous platform development specifically for ginger cropping systems (year 3)
By the end of the three-year project there is potential to reduce labour costs by up to 60% through a reduction in the requirement for manual weeding. Furthermore, improved production due to the timeliness of weed control is expected to increase income. These savings and increased income will be realised through the development of autonomous site-specific weed control technologies. Weed control efficacy will be enhanced through the identification of novel herbicide treatments for selective in-crop weed control.
The development of a site-specific approach to weed control that is based on weed recognition as well as improving the efficiency of herbicide treatments facilitates the introduction of alternate weed control technologies. The potential for utilising alternate weed control techniques such as pulling, electrocution and laser weeding will be incorporated into platform design.