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Robots fight weeds in challenge to agrochemical giants

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In a field of sugar is a solar-powered robot that looks like a table on wheels searches the rows of the crops with his camera, identified weeds and zaps you with radiation of blue liquid out of his mechanical tentacles beet in Switzerland.

The prototype of an Autonomous weeding machine from Swiss start-up ecoRobotix is shown, while tests of beets to a sugar field in the vicinity of Bavois, Switzerland, may 18, 2018. REUTERS/Denis BalibouseThrough the last test runs before the liquid is replaced with weedkiller, and the Swiss robot is a new Generation of AI-weeders, the investors say the $could disrupt 100 billion in pesticide and seed industry through a reduction in the need for the universal herbicides, and genetically modified (GM) crops, which they tolerated.

Influenced by companies such as Bayer, DowDuPont, BASF and Syngenta, the industry is bracing for the impact of the digital agricultural technology, and some companies are already adapting their business models.

The stakes are high. The herbicide sales in value of $26 billion per year and account for 46 percent of the pesticides total revenue while 90 percent of GM seeds have built some of the herbicide-tolerance, according to market researcher Phillips McDougall.

“Some of the profit pools are now in the hands of large agro-chemical company shift, in part, said to the peasants, and in part to the equipment manufacturer”, and Cedric Lecamp, who runs the $1 billion Pictet-nutrition Fund invests in companies along the food supply chain.

In response, producers such as Germany, Bayer sought-after Partner for your precision injection molding systems, while ChemChina Syngenta [CNNCC.UL], for example, is to develop the search, the crop-protection products suitable to the new equipment.

While still in its infancy, the plant-by-plant approach, a significant shift from standard-methods of harvest-production rings.

Now, non-selective herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup, the planted on huge areas with tolerant GM seeds are sprayed, the drive is one of the most lucrative business models in the industry.


But ecoRobotix the developer of the Swiss weeder, believes that his design of reducing the amount of herbicide farmers by 20 times. The company said it is close to the signing of a financing round with investors, and is due on the market by the beginning of 2019.

Blue River, a Silicon Valley startup bought by American tractor company John Deere & co. for $305 million last year, also developed a machine with on-board-cameras, a weed of crops and only spraying herbicides where necessary.

His “see and Spray” weed-control machine that has been tested and in the US cotton fields, will appreciate by a tractor and the developer, it may.cut herbicide use by 90 percent, and to grow as soon as the seed began to

German engineering company Robert-Bosch-here is also working on similar precision injection mould kits, other startups, such as Denmark agro Intelli are here

ROBO Global a consulting firm runs a robotics-and automation-investment-index-Tracker funds, worth a combined $4 billion, believes a plant-by-plant precision injection mould will only gain in importance.

“Much of the technology is already available today. It is only a question of packaging, which said it is the right cost for the farmers”, by Richard light bound, Robo CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“If you herbicides can reduce by a factor of 10, it will be very interesting for the farmer in terms of productivity. It is also eco-friendly and this is clearly not to be very popular, if it’s mandatory, at some point,” he said.