Sensors guide tractors accurately

Peterborough based Garford Farm Machinery designs and manufactures advanced environmentally sustainable agricultural equipment to help large scale weed control and crop cultivation farming problems worldwide. Its ‘Robocrop’ range, covering weeding, hoeing or spraying, employs a specially developed precision guided vision system that uses real-time digital image analysis in conjunction with a hydraulic servo ‘sideshift’ assembly that laterally positions various multiple tools  exactly on or within the crop rows as the tractor mounted equipment is driven forwards.

The precision guided tools are used for mechanical weed control; to remove individual unwanted plants, hoe between rows of plants, or spray rows of plants – with impressive lateral positional accuracies of better than 10 mm at average tractor speeds of 12 km/hr.

Variohm EuroSensor provides the durable precision linear and rotary sensors for use in these extreme environmental and physical conditions, for tractor steering angle and lateral position feedback for the plant rows. To complete the package of sensors on the Robocrop, Variohm also supplies combined pressure and temperature sensors for hydraulic system monitoring.

The In-Row Weeder

Robocrop_Inrow WeederThe Robocrop InRow Weeder is the latest in the Garford range and utilises the tried and tested video image analysis technique to locate crop plants through pixel and colour recognition and then use this information to control individual rotating weeding discs which actually hoe the area between the plants (inter-row) or in line with the plants (inter-plant), eradicating competing weeds but leaving crops intact. The InRow Weeder features multiple individual discs which operate across several crop rows with a maximum width of six metres. The rotation of each disc is synchronised with the forward speed of the tractor and the plant positional information from an imaging camera which can cover a two metre width. Each weeding disc is coupled to a hydraulic motor, driven via a proportional valve controlled by the cab mounted Robocrop computer, which includes an HMI display to select modes and display operational information.

The sensors supplied to Garford are part of a comprehensive range of sensor technologies that Variohm EuroSensor designs, manufactures or sources for linear and rotary position, load, force and vibration measurement in demanding applications throughout industry, agriculture, construction, autosports and research.

 

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