The WeedElec project offers an alternative to global chemical weed control. It combines aerial means of weed detection by drone, coupled with a robot with ECOROBOTIX delta arms fitted with a high-voltage electrical weeding tool.
WeedElec is held by a consortium of five academic and professional partners :
Irstea, the coordinator of the WeedElec project, is the French National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture. The Ecotechnology Department and the ITAP Mixed Research Unit work closely with the French Ministry of Agriculture (Ecophyto 1 & 2, Agriculture 2025, AgGate). The COMIC and PEPS teams will be involved.
The Inria (French National Institute for Research in computer science and control) Zenith project team focuses its research on the major challenges of scientific data management and analysis, constraints of scale (large volumes of data, large software applications), complexity (multi-dimension, multi-scale and uncertain data) and heterogeneity (data semantics). The team, which works closely with Cirad on the development of the Pl@ntNet platform, is investing in the development of effective approaches for automatically determining plant species.
The UMR EMMAH mixed research unit conducts research to analyse the impact of global changes (climate & land use) on water resources, agricultural production, and the interactions between them, at field and landscape level. This research is based on modelling environments and processes and developing observational methods/measurements of the soil and plants (remote/proximal sensing, geophysics to determine soil and plant properties).
GRIAL is one of the biggest farming and agri-food cooperative groups in France (14,000 members in the Great West area of France) and is involved in agri-food processing activities in Europe and internationally, particularly vegetable production. Agrial supports members in their production practices by providing services and expertise to help them meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of farming.
Weed detection is a key feature of WeedElec. The detection means can be split into three categories depending on the type of information used :
The principle of electrical weed control was examined by Diprose (1984). He highlighted that the energy necessary to destroy a plant is proportional to its size, and greater for outdoor plants than those in greenhouses. As part of the PATCHWORK and D3E projects (1995-2000), Irstea developed a specific technique for the localised high-voltage electrical destruction of weeds.
However, due to the varying complex impedance characteristics of different species, they behave differently when they are subjected to a high voltage. WeedElec aims to study these characteristics to generate the optimum high-voltage signal in terms of lethal efficacy and the power consumption of the tool.
Ultimately, the overall objective of WeedElec is to combine all of these solutions in a robot in order to obtain a viable prototype solution that can be developed as a whole or as independent modules with industry.
WeedElec is geo positioned with the TERIA network.
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Localised weeding robot using a high-voltage electrical method combined with predictive management and post-evaluation via drone-mounted hyperspectral vision