UF researches develop tool that targets chemical spray directly to plants

Keeping your food clean, while saving money.

Researchers came up with a prototype to target the plants they spray, rather than spewing chemicals over crops that don’t need it.

That’s the goal for some University of Florida researchers for more reasons than one.

“Reduce the amount of chemicals we apply, and that will help us help growers to increase profit, so reduce costs, input costs,” said Dr. Yiannis Ampatzidis, assistant professor, UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.

The prototype uses cameras and artificial intelligence to target specific weeds or crops. It can even fit underneath something as small as a golf cart and as big as a blueberry harvester.

Gene McAvoy, the associate director for stakeholder relations at UF/IFAS SWFREC, works directly with farmers and growers. He says if labor is more efficient, it’ll help American agriculture compete on the global scale.

“Think about a plant being like a person, when that little baby doesn’t eat very much, so it only needs a little bit of fertilizer,” said McAvoy.

But it also works to protect our backyards by preventing excess chemicals from entering the environment.

“A lot of these chemicals, they might go to underground water and they might pollute the environment,” said Ampatzidis.

It’s one step forward into the future of farming.

“We’re going to have to feed more people with fewer resources and less environmental impact and this is going to be the way to do it in the future,” said McAvoy.

Which means we could see more tech like this in the years to come.

The goal is to have the precision spray product available for growers in the next two to three years.

As of now, the cost is less than $2,000.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Briana Harvath
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