This study evaluated the feasibility of reintroducing mechanical weed control as an alternative for herbicide-resistance weed infestations. The production practice tested included row cultivation with a separate banded spray application using high-accuracy automated guidance systems. A range of ground speeds were tested for the row cultivation operation, each with a different per acre cost and timeliness penalty. A typical eastern Corn Belt farm with a rotation of corn and soybean served as the base for the linear programming model. It was found that if the farmer was willing to reintroduce tillage, row cultivation conducted at higher operating speeds in conjunction with separate banded application could be justified under a range of relatively inexpensive herbicide costs as low as $7 per acre. When effective herbicides were relatively expensive at $30 per acre, the optimal decision would be to use row cultivation and reduce herbicides via banding. At faster ground speeds, the majority of hours devoted to row cultivation shifted to earlier time periods so that yield penalties were avoided.

Griffin, T., Lowenberg-DeBoer, J.M. 2017, Journal of Applied Farm Economics

Robot on Wheels

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