See & Spray Targets Your Weeds—Not Your Healthy Plants  

The John Deere See & Spray is a robotic sprayer that uses deep learning to identify the difference between your weeds and crops, only spraying herbicide on weeds.  

by Shelly Wutke
PHOTO: images courtesy of John Deere

Whether you have 2 acres, 10 acres or more, if you grow crops of any kind you’re going to need to deal with weeds. Blanket spraying of any kind of herbicide can negatively affect your soil quality. And if you’re not careful, spraying could target plants you’re trying to grow.

John Deere tackled this problem by developing farm technology that takes the guess work out of spraying. It’s called See & Spray™, and the company recently won a Best of Innovation award at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2022) for it.  

What is John Deere’s See & Spray? 

John Deere’s See & Spray looks a lot like a sprayer attachment for your tractor, but it’s much more than that. A robot with advanced technology on board, the See & Spray uses computer vision and deep learning to instantly recognize the difference between your weeds and your plants.  

How does it work? As the sprayer moves across your pasture, a camera will scan the area and detect color in your field. It picks out green plants in fallow land, the sprayer is activated, and it will only target those weeds specifically.

That means it sprays herbicide on a single plant instead of broadcasting it across a wide area.  

According to John Deere, this targeted spraying will mean the average farmer sprays an average of 77 percent less herbicide. The technology helps to reduce herbicide resistance because farmers can mix different products. They can also use more expensive products without as much waste.  

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Read more: Do you know the parts of a sprayer? In this video, we break them down.

Spraying Less Helps the Environment 

Like other large companies, John Deere has put an immediate focus on persevering the environment and reducing their carbon footprint. Having a targeted herbicide sprayer with the ability to recognize the difference between healthy crops and weeds will reduce one of the biggest environmental issues farmers face when spraying herbicides—spray drift.  

Spray drift occurs when spray is airborne and the droplets of herbicide move away from the plants you’re spraying. The amount of spray drift you have is affected by

  • how big the droplets are
  • wind speed when you’re spraying
  • distance between the nozzle and the plant you’re attempting to spray

The design of the See & Spray puts the nozzle directly over the plant when the herbicide is ejected. That reduces the likelihood that any herbicide gets picked up by wind or transferred to another plant.  

If you do want to broadcast spray your crops, the See & Spray will let you do that, too. Without even leaving the cab, you can switch from targeted spray to broadcast spray. This gives you the option of covering a larger area.  

Available for John Deere 400 and 600 series  

The See & Spray is designed for larger farms. But if you have a John Deere 400 series or 600 series tractor, you’ll soon be able to use this new technology on your own fields.

It’s slated to be available this summer.  

Read more: John Deere’s new autonomous tractor could be the future of farming.

Pair with the John Deere Self-Driving Tractor  

John Deere has been busy over the past few years. Not only are they launching the See & Spray, but this year they’ll release their fully autonomous tractor, the John Deere 8R. The self-driving tractor has six pairs of stereo cameras and artificial intelligence to scan its environment and navigate without you in the cab.  

Imagine what it would be like to send the John Deere 8R into the fields with the See & Spray. This would eliminate hours of work in a day! And time in a day is one thing farmers always need more of. 

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