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BASF/Bosch expand digital ag collaboration

BASF and German technology provider Bosch have expanded their ongoing collaboration in digital agriculture.

BASF and German technology provider Bosch have expanded their ongoing collaboration in digital agriculture by establishing a project centre, which enables them to undertake joint research and development activities at the same location. Since 2016, the two companies have been working together on the smart spraying project, a technology for precise herbicide application, which "significantly" reduces the amount of herbicides used.

The companies say that the smart spraying concept provides a smart system, which can differentiate a weed from a crop plant and applies herbicides in a targeted manner. Smart Spraying finds, detects and sprays weeds within milliseconds. As the sprayer passes over the field, its on-board cameras record the vegetation over the entire area. A smart spraying management system analyses the sensor signals online and identifies the presence of a crop plant or weed. The system then controls the sprayer jets and the herbicide is applied as needed. Weed-free areas, on the other hand, remain herbicide-free. The entire procedure – scanning, identification, and application – takes just a few milliseconds and is performed in a single processing step.

"In daily practical use in the field, the field sprayer with the smart spraying technology is connected to the Xarvio Feild Manager, which uses various parameters to determine precisely which and how much plant protection product the respective crop needs," explains the head of BASF Digital Farming, Tobias Menne. Xarvio Field Manager is a digital solution that helps farmers make agronomic decisions. Farmers can at any time view the field status, obtain recommendations for each field, and download a set of maps that indicate the application recommendations for each of the individual field zones.

Bosch’s focus in the research and development cooperation is on the camera sensor technology, image processing and pattern recognition, control units, and system connectivity. Initial field trials with prototypes in Europe and in South and North America yielded extremely positive results, the company says. "One of the next steps on the road to readying the system for the market is optimisation of the sprayer’s resolution to achieve even more precise herbicide application," says the head of commercial vehicles and off-road operating unit at Robert Bosch, Andrew Allen.

Bayer’s Crop Science division and Bosch began collaborating on Smart Spraying in 2017. BASF acquired the complete Xarvio digital farming platform last year from Bayer.

The market launch of Smart Spraying is planned for 2021. Further joint activities are planned.

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