Strategic Elements has passed a key development milestone and is providing cutting-edge hardware and software being developed by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Stealth Technologies, to the agricultural sector. The company is developing an integrated remote sensing system that can identify weeds within crops, allowing them to be specifically treated or eliminated.
Application of the technology is expected to increase crop yields.
The weed detection platform is being developed in cooperation with the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative and the University of Western Australia.
Strategic’s recent technological advances have resulted in a dramatic reduction in the size and weight of the sensors which, when coupled with an upgrade to the software package, is said to be assisting in the rapid identification of weeds within cereal crops.
Management says the advances allow the system to be readily mounted on a range of vehicles, including utes, boom sprayers and even drones to help pinpoint weeds for targeted treatment.
The company now plans to move to field testing of its technology in August 2021. The system will be trialled at two sites in Western Australia’s wheatbelt, including the UWA’s research facility at Pingelly two hours’ drive south-east of Perth and a second farm plot at Gillingarra, about two hours north of Perth.
Targeting crops will initially include wheat and barley, with other large-scale plantings, such as corn, oats and canola likely to be tested as development of the technology evolves. Results are likely to be available in early September 2021 with an expanded trial slated to commence on 10 separate farms during the harvesting season that will kick off in November 2021.
Interestingly, the sensor technology being utilised in the weed identification and treatment program has its origins in the company’s Stealth Technologies AxV program, which is a collaboration with tech-giant Honeywell. The AxV program is developing an autonomous security vehicle for use in correctional facilities and is now also being trialled by Australia’s Department of Defence in a variety of hazardous environments including biological and chemical warfare scenarios.
The Stealth team has been working incredibly hard to advance the AxV Platform. We are in active discussions with multiple companies on potential deployments of the AxV Platform (automation technologies and robotics) across security, defence, agriculture, mining and other sectors.
The treatment and loss of crop production from weeds is estimated at more than $3.3 billion per annum in Australia alone whilst weed treatment and resultant crop loses in the US tip the scales at more than US$34.5 billion a year. This represents a potentially lucrative market for Strategic’s developing suite of agricultural technologies, with the potential to also drastically reduce the use of herbicides to produce environmental benefits and cost savings whilst maximising crop yields.
With Strategic continuing to develop a range of agricultural, security and military hardware and software based on its AxV platform and the company also advancing a raft of other cutting-edge technologies, including self-charging batteries, pundits can look forward to a steady stream of news in the months ahead.
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