By Tim Kalinowski
One Schuler, Alberta family has big dreams about the future of sustainable farming. Travis Albrecht, president of AGA Agro, is hoping a new precision spraying system called Weed It, created by Tramontana Agro Technologies, will find the right balance between targeted weed management and greener farming practices.
“We started about four years ago with the products we wanted but we couldn’t get,” explains Albrecht. “We are basing our whole farm on the model of soil health now, and using Mother Nature to look after our problems for us.”
As part of that more sustainable approach, AGA Agro has agreed to become the first Canadian distributor for the Weed It spray system.
“It’s a system which runs in conjunction with a sprayer you already have,” explains Albrecht. “You bolt it on and it runs LED light sensors across the front of your boom that can show each nozzle individually, and only turn on when there is a weed underneath the nozzle.”
“What our system does is it uses the florescent effect of the chlorophyll and it exclusively reacts with the plant material,” adds Tramontana Agro Technology representative Andries Mellema.
“We throw 40,000 light pulses per second on the ground, and as soon as we see infrared coming back, we hit that area where the infrared is coming from.”
The spray system only reacts to green, leafy plant material; thus making it effective for Round-Up spraying in spring time or for the fall burn off.
Besides selling the technology, the Albrechts will also be using their own farm as the first Canadian demonstration ground for the system.
“This is the maiden voyage in Canada,” confirms Albrecht. “I am hoping we can get one of these systems on every farm in Canada, and change the way we spray; especially Round-Up and post-harvest.”
The system could reduce a farm’s overall spray usage by as much as 80 per cent in some cases, says Albrecht, and still be highly effective in controlling weeds. Less spray means less cost and less weed resistance, he adds.
“We are not wasting spray and creating resistance. We are targeting the weeds and only spraying weeds in the areas we spray.”
Mellema says the initial cost for the system is higher than other spray application systems in the Canadian marketplace, but its efficiency and environmental benefits more than make up for the user’s initial cost once it is deployed in the field. He expects those who take the time to look into the system will be impressed with the results.
“This is a proven technology,” he states. “We’ve been selling these in Australia for the past seven years, and last year we sold 3,000 sensor units.
“We understand farmers by nature are cautious. This is a new technology and they would like to see it run. I can totally appreciate they would like to see it in action in person.”
For Albrecht, on the other hand, bringing in and selling this technology is a step in the right direction toward a more sustainable farm future in Canada.
“I just grew up on the farm, and I love the new technology in agriculture. Many in the general population are now against GMOs and Round-Up usage. A lot of us want to be sustainable, and it means changing the way you farm.
“We wouldn’t want to get rid of Round-Up altogether because it is a very useful tool for us,” he stresses.
“But we can use it way more efficiently. In Canada, if we can cut Round-Up usage by 80 per cent, it’s a big deal.”
For more information on Weed It and the other sustainable farming products AGA Agro sells visit www.agaagro.com