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Sensors 2013, 13(3), 3313-3330; doi:10.3390/s130303313
Article

Development and Evaluation of a Combined Cultivator and Band Sprayer with a Row-Centering RTK-GPS Guidance System

1,* , 2
,
2
 and
1
1 Aerospace Engineering and Fluids Mechanics Department, University of Sevilla, Ctra. Sevilla-Utrera km 1, 41013 Sevilla, Spain 2 Rural Engineering Department, University of Córdoba, Campus de Rabanales, Edif. Leonardo da Vinci, Ctra. Nacional IV-A km 376, 14014 Córdoba, Spain
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 January 2013 / Revised: 28 February 2013 / Accepted: 8 March 2013 / Published: 11 March 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensor-Based Technologies and Processes in Agriculture and Forestry)
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Abstract

Typically, low-pressure sprayers are used to uniformly apply pre- and post-emergent herbicides to control weeds in crop rows. An innovative machine for weed control in inter-row and intra-row areas, with a unique combination of inter-row cultivation tooling and intra-row band spraying for six rows and an electro-hydraulic side-shift frame controlled by a GPS system, was developed and evaluated. Two weed management strategies were tested in the field trials: broadcast spraying (the conventional method) and band spraying with mechanical weed control using RTK-GPS (the experimental method). This approach enabled the comparison between treatments from the perspective of cost savings and efficacy in weed control for a sugar beet crop. During the 2010–2011 season, the herbicide application rate (112 L ha1) of the experimental method was approximately 50% of the conventional method, and thus a significant reduction in the operating costs of weed management was achieved. A comparison of the 0.2-trimmed means of weed population post-treatment showed that the treatments achieved similar weed control rates at each weed survey date. Sugar beet yields were similar with both methods (p = 0.92). The use of the experimental equipment is cost-effective on ≥20 ha of crops. These initial results show good potential for reducing herbicide application in the Spanish beet industry.
Keywords: weed control; automation; GPS; sugar beet weed control; automation; GPS; sugar beet
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Perez-Ruiz, M.; Carballido, J.; Agüera, J.; Rodríguez-Lizana, A. Development and Evaluation of a Combined Cultivator and Band Sprayer with a Row-Centering RTK-GPS Guidance System. Sensors 2013, 13, 3313-3330.

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