Killing Weeds the Modern Way

Weeds — any plants that grow where they are not wanted — are the bane of agriculture. The preferred way to kill them is with herbicides. But these chemicals are expensive and deposit tons of poison into the environment, with the attendant risk of collateral damage. Is there a better way?

There just may be. Carbon Robotics has developed the Autonomous LaserWeeder which simply zaps weeds with lasers. According to the company’s website, one robot can weed between 15 and 20 acres per day using GPS, including working at night. Eight laser modules, guided by high-resolution cameras and a supercomputer, operate simultaneously to kill as many as 100,000 weeds per hour. This high-tech machine sounds like a real breakthrough and could signal a trend toward the use of more robotics in agriculture. But there is one detail missing from the website — price. Equipment costs are high enough as it is, and affording advanced technology means further consolidation into larger agribusinesses. So it will be interesting to see how widespread this machine becomes.

For all the details, visit Carbon Robotics at

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