It is a warm and sunny day in late spring. Not all the fields have a closed crop cover yet. So, the white chalky soils around the village of Somsois in Champagne reflect the sunlight so strongly that the eyes start to blink.
In this intensively farmed region, Damien Menuel manages an 860ha arable farm together with his uncle and cous-in. 65 to 70% of his farmland consists of light, calcareous, almost white soils. To achieve high yields, they must be fertilised properly. The remaining fields are located on drained, clayey loam soils.
Mr Menuel grows wheat and barley on more than half of his land. The remaining fields are mainly used for row crops like rape, sunflowers, sugar beet and potatoes, as well as legumes. Due to the hilly terrain and associated erosion problems, he has been using min-till practices for 15 years and focuses heavily on effective weed control.
High Affinity to Technical Solutions
Damien is very tech-savvy and maintains a modern fleet of machinery. His five main tractors, three large 8020 and 8R Series tractors and two John Deere 6R tractors are connected to the John Deere Operation Centre via JDLink. The farmer has installed the Operation Centre app on his smartphone.
This way, he knows where his machines are and what they are doing at any given time. His seed drills, fertiliser spreaders and sprayers are equipped with ISO-BUS and section control. So far, he has mainly been using precision farming techniques for fertiliser application, using bio-mass maps that are recorded and generated by satellites.
Satellites cannot detect weeds from space. See & Spray is like an electronic eye in the field.Damien Menuel
Damien has been collaborating with John Deere for years. This year, for example, he is testing a development to improve data exchange between BASF’s xarvio system and the John Deere Operation Cen-tre. “Previously I had to use a USB stick to transfer the prescription map from xarvio to the tractor, but today I can transfer the data directly from xarvio via my John Deere Operations Centre to my tractor.”
The Electronic Eye In The Field
In autumn 2022, together with John Deere, he began to use the See & Spray system for weed control with glyphosate. “Today, a farmer can no longer know the characteristics of all fields, and satellites cannot detect weeds from space. See & Spray, on the other hand, is like an ‘electronic eye’ in the field. Last autumn we had a very good experience with the ‘green on brown detection’ and we saved about 30% on herbicide costs.”
This spring, Damien tested See & Spray Select with regular herbicides in crops that had already emerged. With the new technology, See & Spray Select can identify rows in crops like rape, sugar beet, sunflowers, maize, or potatoes, and detect weeds in between the rows.
A spray nozzle is only released for spraying when the ‘electronic eye’ detects a weed in the space between the rows. Be-cause weeds are often grouped closely together, and the spray is usually applied to the row blanked out for weed detection, it also hits the weeds within the row. During the tests, Damien closely collaborated with the technicians and engineers from the John Deere Sprayer factories in Horst (the Netherlands) and Des Moines (US). Their focus was to develop and optimise the software of See & Spray Select under real life field conditions in different crops, while reducing the amount of herbicide used to an acceptable minimum.
With See & Spray Select we achieve the same weed control results as with full broadcast application.Stijn Kroonen
Because of the farm’s reduced tillage approach, they had to deal with some bigger weeds with strong roots, which had survived the tillage process. This is where See & Spray Select reveals its full poten tial. It opens the nozzles and sprays the full dosage required to kill the weeds. But as soon as there are no weeds, the system stops spraying. The results were very satisfying. “Throughout our field testing we found the weed control results of See & Spray Select were equivalent to a ‘whole field’ spraying approach,” says Stijn Kroonen, representative of the John Deere sprayer factory in Horst. “The farmer needs less herbicides. They save on herbicide costs and preserve the environment at the same time.”