Funding Agency: USDA NIFA (SCRI)
WSU Investigators: Manoj Karkee and Qin Zhang,
Stakeholders have identified effective, and economical weed management techniques as a high research priority in vegetable crops, and a critical need in specialty crop production systems. Intra-row weeds decimate vegetable crops and add sharply to the cost of farm management because herbicide application against them is often inefficient and/or they require removal by hand labor. Our long-term goal is to develop and integrate various novel engineering and automation technologies to develop cost-effective weed control systems for intra-row weed management in vegetable crops. We will develop new engineering technologies for precise intra-row weed control and crop thinning using precision planting, crop signaling and new weed detection and actuator technologies. These technologies will be developed at UC Davis (lead institution) and the University of Arizona before integrating them into effective and efficient weed management strategies for growers in WA, CA, AZ and other vegetable growing areas. This system will reduce the need for both hand labor and herbicides while increasing productivity, profitability and long term sustainability of vegetable production. Both organic and conventional growers will benefit greatly from our game-changing research.