Categories: Articles, Mechanisation, NewsPublished On: 13th April 2023

Technews: The latest in agricultural technology from around the world

By 7 min read

Screenshot 2023-04-06 125725

The two millionth John Deere tractor produced in Mannheim, the 6250R, with the 6400, which was the millionth tractor produced in Mannheim in 1993. Also pictured is the first tractor from the factory, the HL 12 Lanz Bulldog in 1921. John Deere took control of Heinrich Lanz Ag and its factories in Germany and Spain in 1956.

Two million milestone for Mannheim

This 6250R is the two millionth tractor produced at John Deere’s Mannheim plant in Germany. Wrapped in portrait photos of more than 300 employees, the most powerful model currently produced at the facility will join the one millionth tractor, a 6400, in the factory museum.

More than 3 000 employees help produce 40 000 tractors a year at Mannheim. The largest John Deere production facility outside North America, it is also the largest tractor production facility in Germany, as two-thirds of all tractors manufactured in Germany are produced in Mannheim.

It is not only a production site, but also a development one for all medium tractors. The main focus for the 250+ engineers is on performance, comfort, and efficiency, but they are also working on alternative concepts, such as the use of biofuels.

Electric drives are also being developed, albeit only for smaller tractors. The company says that battery capacity for larger machines is not yet sufficient. Looking ahead, John Deere plans to present the first fully autonomous and battery-driven tractor (approximately 75 kW) in 2026.
(Source: profi)

Killing weeds with laser technology becomes viable

Carbon Robotics™ pioneers the next revolution in agricultural technology:
laser weeding.

Weed control is one of farming’s biggest headaches. By leveraging artificial intelligence and laser technology, Carbon Robotics delivers chemical-free, no-till weed control for specialty crops.

Their high-resolution cameras feed imagery in real time to an onboard supercomputer that runs computer vision models to identify crops and weeds. High-powered lasers then kill weeds at the meristem — without harming valuable crops.

Laser weeding works day or night, in all weather conditions. It is a high-precision solution that improves crop yield and reduces overall costs associated with modern farming. Additionally, laser weeding creates sustainable paths to regenerative and organic farming.

The farming robots: The Autonomous Weeder looks like a large cube on wheels. It kills weeds without harming soil or water sources, and operates autonomously, eliminating the reliance on manual labour.

As it drives itself down rows of crops, its 12 cameras scan the ground. An onboard computer, powered by AI, identifies weeds, and the robot’s carbon dioxide lasers then zap and kill the plants.

The Autonomous Weeder can eliminate more than 100 000 weeds per hour and weed 6 to 10 hectares of crops in one day.

The new LaserWeeder is not autonomous — it must be pulled by a row tractor, meaning someone would need to be available to drive it. However, it has three times the lasers of the autonomous farming robot, and in one hour, it can cover about one hectare and eliminate 200 000 weeds.

The LaserWeeder destroys weeds with laser technology. An autonomous version was developed, but this 2023-version needing tractor power was welcomed by farmers in America.

Paul Mikesell, Carbon Robotics’ CEO and founder, says: “We have proven the effectiveness of our laser weeding technology and the immense benefits it offers farmers, including healthier crops and soil, decreased herbicide use, and reduced chemical and labour costs.”

“To best serve farmers’ needs, we’ve adapted the design of our product, but will still leverage our proven laser weeding technology,” he continued.

The Autonomous Weeders are now serving as demo units, but the LaserWeeder is commercially available.

“The LaserWeeder automates one of the most demanding, costly, and timeintensive tasks on the farm: weeding,” said Josh Roberts, President and GM of Triangle Farms in Salinas, California.

“The implement design is familiar and easy to integrate into daily operations while streamlining weed maintenance, providing consistency that farmers value and rely on to support the growth of our businesses,” he continued.

These are some of the AI and laser features incorporated in the design:

  • Powered by Nvidia GPUs
  • High-resolution cameras targeting weeds
  • Deep-learning based computer vision models
  • Independent weeding modules
  • 150 W CO2 lasers with millimetre accuracy
  • Ready to fire every 50 milliseconds
  • Bedtop lighting effective in all conditions

(Source: Freethink and Carbon Robotics)

Pest-resistant tomatoes finally available after 30 year’s work

A tenacious plant breeder has developed more than a dozen new lines of naturally pest-resistant tomatoes — foreshadowing a future in which farmers will not need to rely on pesticides to protect their crops.

Martha Mutschler-Chu, a plant breeder and geneticist at Cornell University, checking her insect resistant tomatoes.

More than thirty years ago, Martha Mutschler-Chu, a plant breeder and geneticist at Cornell University, set out to develop a tomato that would be naturally pest-resistant, minimising or even eliminating the need for pesticide sprays.

She is now only a couple of months away from wrapping up the project and giving seed companies access to twenty elite lines of naturally pestresistant tomatoes.

Insects can damage tomatoes directly by their eating leaves and fruit, but if the insect is carrying a virus, it can also infect the plant with a virus, causing even worse damage. However, a variety of tomato native to Peru, Solanum pennellii, does not have this problem.

The Peruvian variety excretes droplets of sugar compounds, called “acyl sugars,” from tiny hairs on its surface. Then insects land on the plant, the acyl sugars cause them to start grooming themselves excessively and quickly fly away rather than feeding.

S. pennellii is not tasty, though, so Martha and her colleagues set out to find the genes responsible for the production of acyl sugars in the wild plant and breed them into a type of tomato people like to eat.

The lines she is now preparing to make accessible to seed companies contain only 2,5% of the wild tomatoes’ DNA, so they do not have its undesirable flavour and other negative traits, such as small fruit and too many branches. They do, however, ward off a variety of insect species.

Once seed companies have access to Martha’s elite lines, they will need to crossbreed the plants with their own varieties of tomatoes — that process could take up to five years, so we shall only be able to get hold of the seed in a few years’ time.

However, because Mutschler-Chu used traditional breeding techniques to create the pest-resistant tomatoes, rather than modifying them with genes from other species, they will not need to go through the lengthy regulatory approval process for GMOs, and, when the fruits do hit the produce aisle, they could be more quickly accepted by consumers.
(Source: Freethink, Photo: Jason Koski / Cornell University)

Landini shows its first 223,7 kW (300 hp) tractor

Landini, the Italian tractor manufacturer, showed its first 223,7 kW tractor at the recently held Polish Agrotech farm machinery show. The 8 Series will be offered in two V-Shift models: the 8-270 (203,6 kW) and 8-310 (233,4 kW).

For some time, Landini dealers and customers have asked for a tractor with more power than the 7-230, especially since the McCormick X8, which is from the same Argo Tractors stable, has been in production for a few years.

Many of the specifications are still under wraps, but journalists at the Agrotech show say the Landini 8 flagship clearly shares its exterior looks with the X8. It is also powered by the same 6,7 litre six-cylinder Stage V FPT engine. This is equipped with an electronically controlled turbocharger eVGT and SCR exhaust aftertreatment system. The V-Shift CVT in the Landini 8 reaches 40 km/h at a quiet running 1 300 rpm or 50 km/h at 1 600 rpm.

This first high powered (223,7 kW) Landini was showcased at a Polish farm machinery show.

The four-pillar cab has semi-active hydraulic suspension, and the airsuspended operator’s seat provides automatic height adjustment and a backrest with heating and ventilation.

The main controls and multifunction joystick are located on the right armrest. The 8 Series can also be equipped with Landini’s fleet management and remote diagnostics system.

The wheelbase is up to 3 m, the standard hydraulic system supplies up to 157 ℓ/min (or optional 212 ℓ/min), and the rear lift capacity is 12 tonnes.
(Source: profitechnika.pl, Pictures: Artur Jakubek)

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