Garford Farm Machinery launches first-to-market vision guided mechanical hoe and high-capacity interrow hoeing machine

Precision guided mechanical hoe manufacturer Garford Farm Machinery introduced two new innovations at Agritechnica 2023, developed to offer advanced capability and efficiency in mechanical weed control solutions.

Garford launched its new high-capacity interrow hoeing machine, Robocrop Interrow 12NT, alongside the industry-first, vision guided interrow selective mechanical weeding system, the Robocrop Spot Hoe.  These are the latest additions to a growing portfolio of advanced mechanical weed control products, developed and manufactured in the UK.

“With increasingly stringent regulations over the use of chemical weed controls, particularly within the UK and Europe, the use of hoeing and mechanical weeding solutions is becoming an even more vital tool for the farmer,” explained Allan Knight, Garford Farm Machinery’s technical sales and marketing manager.

“These two new introductions are set to add another dimension to help boost productivity capabilities and support environmental credentials, as agricultural policy makers across the world increasingly look to adopt more sustainable solutions to weed control, in both conventional and organic systems,” he added.

Robocrop Interrow 12NT and Robocrop Spot Hoe, as with the full range of Robocrop products, utilise video cameras and image analysis computers to locate crop position, guiding the hoes quickly, accurately and efficiently.

New level of hoeing capacity

The Robocrop Interrow 12NT offers a new level of hoeing capacity, for large-scale farming systems, offering productivity levels previously only available in North America.

A twin shift system allows the high capacity interrow machine to follow 2 x 6m drill sections, allowing double the productivity of a 6m tractor-mounted hoe. The system can be transported under 3m wide and 4m in height, and is compatible with 3m controlled traffic systems in the field.

“Farmers and growers with 6m drills would need to operate two machines to provide the equivalent capacity, or four if using the 3-point hitch mounted tine weeder. The Robocrop Interrow 12NT truly is a leap in productivity capability,” said Mr Knight

The innovation is in the machine configuration. It incorporates new wheel units which retract for transport folding, and a multi-stage variable volume accumulator, which enables unit raising for headland section control in irregular shaped fields.

The system also incorporates a telescopic axle for conversion from field mode to transport mode, while a hydrostatic powered axle ensures mobility meets or exceeds 6m tractor-mounted hoe systems, and a rear 3-point hitch provides the option for the coupling of a 12m tine weeder.

“Twin section Robocrop vision guidance is integrated, making the Robocrop Interrow 12NT a truly no-compromise high performance hoeing package. Collectively the machine enables a new level of productivity for organic producers, as well as large-scale conventional farmers transitioning to sustainable integrated weed management practices,” said Mr Knight.

Selective mechanical weeding solution

The Robocrop Spot Hoe is a brand-new machine for selectively weeding the interrow zone in row crop and cereal crop production systems. Utilising high resolution cameras, hoeing blades are engaged to selectively remove weeds when they are detected, and then disengaged after removal.

“With a focus on the increasing adoption of more sustainable production systems, the Robocrop Spot Hoe is the only system on the market to offer selective hoeing capability, based on locally sensed interrow weed density,” said Mr Knight.

The system brings many benefits, for example helping to conserve moisture in dryland farming systems, in more arid regions. It also saves fuel, as the energy required will be reduced in non-weed population areas.

When the timing does not suit a continuous hoeing operation, Robocrop Spot Hoe also enables farmers to automate the selective weeding of crops mechanically.

As conservation and regenerative agriculture policy adoption improves the soils of highly productive arable farmland, so the demand for selective mechanical weed control will increase,” said Mr Knight.

“The Robocrop Spot Hoe leverages multiple technical layers, packaging them together to enable a machine to do a weeding job in a way not previously achievable or available on the market,” he added.