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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Optical Sensing to Determine Tomato Plant Spacing for Precise Agrochemical Application: Two Scenarios.

  • Author(s): Martínez-Guanter, Jorge
  • Garrido-Izard, Miguel
  • Valero, Constantino
  • Slaughter, David C
  • Pérez-Ruiz, Manuel
  • et al.

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The feasibility of automated individual crop plant care in vegetable crop fields has increased, resulting in improved efficiency and economic benefits. A systems-based approach is a key feature in the engineering design of mechanization that incorporates precision sensing techniques. The objective of this study was to design new sensing capabilities to measure crop plant spacing under different test conditions (California, USA and Andalucía, Spain). For this study, three different types of optical sensors were used: an optical light-beam sensor (880 nm), a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor (905 nm), and an RGB camera. Field trials were conducted on newly transplanted tomato plants, using an encoder as a local reference system. Test results achieved a 98% accuracy in detection using light-beam sensors while a 96% accuracy on plant detections was achieved in the best of replications using LiDAR. These results can contribute to the decision-making regarding the use of these sensors by machinery manufacturers. This could lead to an advance in the physical or chemical weed control on row crops, allowing significant reductions or even elimination of hand-weeding tasks.

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