Robot pesticide sprayer: future of farming?

Robot pesticide sprayer: future of farming?

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by Keely Chalmers, KGW Reporter

kgw.com

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 14 at 7:25 AM

BORING, Ore. -- It just may be the future of farming. A robot-like contraption that dramatically cuts down on the amount of pesticides going into rivers is being tested in Oregon.

The Hans Nelson and Sons Nursery in Boring has been testing out the contraption since May with help from Oregon State University researchers.

The device uses a laser to detect the size, shape and density of plants. It then sprays the exact amount of pesticide needed.

If there's no plant, the nozzles automatically shut off.

The nursery says since it started using the device, it's drastically cut down on pesticide use as well as the amount of chemicals that wind up on the ground, air and water.

“We're reducing the amount of wasted pesticide, the pesticide that doesn't land on the plant, by about 87 percent,” said OSU Extension Horticulturist Robin Rosetta.

A 2005 study by the USGS found pesticide contamination in the Clackamas River around the Boring area. It even detected small amounts of pesticides in the drinking water the river supplies to cities like Lake Oswego, West Linn and Oregon City.

Right now, the “smart-sprayer” is in its test phase. But a local manufacturer has already expressed interest in marketing it.

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