In a world of self-driving tractors, cars and even lawnmowers, the call for the precision and reliability of GPS controlled vehicles is sweeping across all industries.
For compact sprayer manufacturer Martin Lishman, its venture into the world of autonomous spraying became a reality when they were approached by UK-based precision equipment specialist Manterra. The plan was to mount a Martin Lishman Mini-Spray 125 liter demount sprayer with 3.5m boom on Manterra’s XAG R150 fully autonomous utility vehicle and create a go-anywhere unmanned GPS controlled spraying system.
The XAG and Mini-Spray combo provides a robust and versatile ground-based platform, which offers a whole plethora of spraying capabilities at an affordable level. It utilizes the Trimble control system to deliver a full suite of variable rate application and targeted application solutions using Trimble Weedseeker sensors.
The use of the unmanned sprayer vehicle brings with it many benefits; the precision aspect means accurate spraying application and minimizing the overuse of chemicals; from a safety perspective, operators have greater separation from chemicals when the sprayer is in use; and from an environmental point of view, the battery vehicle is quieter and lighter than typical UTV’s or tractors, minimizing disturbance and ground pressure.
“One simple but very effective application is using the XAG ‘follow me’ mode to do spot spraying using the lance attached to the Lishman sprayer,” says Andrew Manfield, managing director at Manterra. “As the R150 will follow the operator, stopping and starting automatically at approximately 2 meters away, it is infinitely better than using either a knapsack sprayer or a machine which must constantly be driven forward.”
Manfield says field tests have been run successfully, and the companies have machines in the process of installation with customers, which include educational establishments.