Efficient measures for weed control and other crop protection measures are vital to avoid crop loss in agriculture. National supply of food, feed and other agricultural products depends on each farmer?s success managing their fields and orchards. The recent loss of the herbicide diquat, and the potential ban on glyphosate, - both important tools for farmers -, raise a demand for new measures for vegetation control. Alternatives to herbicides are also important in Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Norwegian growers need to document compliance to IPM since 2015. Goal of IPM is to ensure minimum hazards to health and environment from pesticides. SOLUTIONS will work on: New solutions for potato canopy desiccation (T1.1), Control of weeds and runners in field strawberries (T2.1) and Weed management in apple orchards (T3.1). Measures to be tested are bioherbicides, e.g. pelargonic acid and other organic acids, thermal methods, e.g. hot water and electricity, alone or in combinations with current and new mechanical implements and newly approved products. SOLUTIONS will also work on two precision agriculture technologies: Field robot for precision removal of weeds and runners in strawberry (T2.2) and Variable dosing of potato canopy desiccant based on satellite images (T1.2).
In T 1.1 ? Desiccation of potato canopy - we conducted five field trials in 2021. Three trials with pelargonic acid and acetic acid were done in various potato varieties at farmers? fields (near Hamar and Skarnes) and NIBIO. Treatment once and twice, and addition of paraffin oil were examined. Data on desiccation of crop leaves and stems, skin ripening and tubers? release from the plant, crop yield and - quality were recorded. Preliminary data analysis show promising effect of some treatments. Two trials testing mechanical flailing alone and together with treatment with flaming or hot water were done at farmers? potato fields (near Hamar and Vormsund). Hot water treatment were tested in various doses, once or twice, also without flailing. Preliminary impression is that mechanical flailing followed by either hot water or flaming are most promising.
T 1.2 ? Sensor-based dosing of desiccants in potato: In 2021 we selected nine farmers? potato fields (Viken and Innlandet) as candidates for satellite and reference measurements to monitor the crop canopy. We created a software program for the automatic and daily acquisition of satellite imagery (Sentinel 2), covering the selected fields. Whenever a new scene is available, the program downloads and pre-processes the scene in order to calculate different vegetation indices together with a probability measure for occurrence of clouds. For some selected scenes, we conducted several hundred reference measurement with a hand-held leaf area index (LAI) meter, as an indirect measure of canopy biomass/density. Based on these and future reference measurements, we will calibrate a model to estimate the canopy biomass/density from satellite indices.
In T 2.1 ? Control of weeds and runners in strawberries ? we conducted one field trial in 2021 testing weed control methods in a newly established commercial strawberry field (double row culture) at Ridabu (Innlandet). Repeated treatments with hot water combined with mechanical hoeing between the rows, as well as herbicides and untreated control were included. For hot water, we tested two distances to the crop plants (2 cm and 4 cm) and two water volumes (3 and 6 L per m2). Analysis of data remains.
T 2.2 - Robot to control weeds and runners in strawberries: Kilter AS has in 2021 had meetings in strawberry fields with producer and extension service to better understand the research and innovation task. Task requires sampling of data (images) at relevant periods in the growing season. Images will be used to develop machine vision able to automatically discriminate weeds, runners and crop plants in images acquired by the robot. We sampled images in 1-4 strawberry fields at three occasions during June-September.
In T 3.1 ? Weed management in apple orchards ? we have in 2021 done one field trial in a commercial apple orchard (Østre Toten). The goal is glyphosate-free strategies against weeds growing within the apple tree row. Trial tested five alternative strategies: hot water at two volumes (3 and 6 L per m2), various doses of pelargonic acid and mechanical row hoeing, as well as untreated control and common practice (glyphosate). Treatments were done three times during May-July. Analysis of data remains.
NIBIO - Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research coordinates project. It is funded by Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri (FFL/JA) and Grofondet AS, as well as the collaborative and funding partners A-K maskiner AS, Heatweed Technologies AS, Kilter AS, Norsk Landbruksrådgiving (NLR, Norwegian Agri Extension Service) and growers of potatoes, strawberries and apples. NLR Innlandet, NLR Vest, NLR Viken and NLR Øst also participate.
To reduce environmental and health risks by pesticides, authorities and growers seek alternative methods as part of integrated pest management (IPM). IPM has been mandatory since 2015 in Norway, and is based on 8 principles whereof non-chemical methods is one. The recent withdrawal of the desiccant Reglone (diquat) and the currently uncertain future of the widely used herbicide glyphosate (marketed as e.g. Roundup) cause serious challenges for Norwegian production of potatoes, strawberries and apples. The project SOLUTIONS will work on new solutions for: 1) Potato canopy desiccation, 2) Control of weeds and runners in field strawberries, and 3) Weed management in apple orchards. Measures to be tested are Bioherbicides, for example pelargonic acid and other organic acids; Thermal methods, for example hot water and electricity, alone or in combinations with current and new mechanical implements and newly approved products. SOLUTIONS will also work on two precision agriculture technologies: 1) Sensor-based dosing of new potato desiccant(s), and 2) Robot to control weeds and runners in field strawberries. The most critical R&D challenges faced in the project are reaching sufficient and reliable efficacies of the new agents and methods. For sensor-based dosing of desiccants, relying on satellite data in the visible spectrum might be a challenge due to clouds. For the robot, discriminating runners from objects like leaf stems of the strawberry mother plant may not be straightforward. SOLUTIONS is a 4-year project (2021-2024) coordinated by NIBIO - Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. It is funded by Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri and Grofondet AS. Collaborative and financial partners are Norsk Landbruksrådgiving, A-K maskiner AS, Heatweed Technologies AS, Kilter AS and Norwegian producers of potatoes, field strawberries and apples.