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Ag Matters: Precision agriculture could help remove weeds

Dandelions among blades of grass.
Maja Petric

Keeping a farmer’s fields free of weeds isn’t like removing dandelions from a garden. The sheer size means that herbicides are often necessary, yet those chemicals may harm soil health and pollinators, and they can run off into rivers and groundwater.

Technology may soon offer a better approach. By using a computer to generate thousands of images of weeds, another computer can be taught to identify them in the field. Combined with advances in drone technology, machines could someday precisely weed even the largest fields, leading to better crop yields and a healthier environment.