Fighting weeds in sugarbeet cultivation intelligently and precisely with the laser

Vision of a weed control system that combines hoeing technology with laser technology for environmentally compatible sugarbeet cultivation. (Graphic: K.U.L.T. Kress Umweltschonende Landtechnik GmbH)

--- Joint press release of the project partners ---

Sugarbeet has a hard time asserting itself against weeds in the field. That's why various partners have joined forces in a project to develop a method for controlling weeds using hoes and lasers.

To create good growth opportunities for sugarbeet plants, farmers need to remove weeds near the crops as they compete for water, nutrients, and sunlight. Whether conventional or organic farming is used, there is a need to further develop agricultural technology solutions for effective and cost-efficient weed management in sugarbeet cultivation. In the LUM joint project, the partners pursue a laser-based approach as an alternative. In combination with hoeing machines, this should enable full-area, chemical-free weed control in the field in the future.

A combined system withimage recognition, laser, and hoeing technology
The project aims to research and develop an efficient and powerful system combination to enable the largest possible area to be cultivated, even when time windows are small due to weather conditions. This will include image capture and intelligent data processing that can precisely distinguish and locate sugarbeet plants from weeds in real-time. This data is used to precisely control lasers as well as hoeing tools. The combination brings together the advantages of both methods. First, the laser is used to kill weeds that have already emerged near the sugarbeet. Then, with sufficient distance to the crop, the remaining field area is freed from weeds by mechanical control measures, or growing weeds that have not yet emerged are literally nipped in the bud.

With this new approach, the partners from research and application aim to create environmentally friendly, chemical-free, sustainable, precise, intelligent, and automated weed control in sugarbeet cultivation.

About LUM
The joint project LUM "Photonic weed control in sugar beet cultivation - laser-based weed management" is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In addition to K.U.L.T. Kress Umweltschonende Landtechnik GmbH, the project involves Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V., Escarda Technologies GmbH, Novanta Europe GmbH, Lumics GmbH and Dachverband Norddeutscher Zuckerrübenanbauer e.V. Associated partners are Nordzucker AG, and GRIMME Landmaschinenfabrik.

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Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH)

As an independent, non-profit research institute, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) stands for innovative research, development and consulting. The LZH is supported by the Niedersachsen Ministry of Economic Affairs, Employment, Transport and Digitalisation and is dedicated to the selfless promotion of applied research in the field of photonics and laser technology. Founded in 1986, almost 200 employees are now working for the LZH.

The focus of the LZH lies on the fields of optical components and systems, optical production technologies, and biomedical photonics. Interdisciplinary cooperation between natural scientists and mechanical engineers makes innovative approaches to challenges from the most different areas possible: from the development of components for specific laser systems to process developments for the most diverse laser applications, for example for medical technology or lightweight construction in the automotive sector. Eighteen spin off companies have emerged from the LZH up to now. Thus, the LZH has created a strong transfer between fundamental science, application oriented research, and industry.