While a demonstration of the AgXeed AgBot driverless tractor might have been attracting considerable attention at the recent Arable Scotland event, it wasn’t the only technological development likely to benefit Scotland’s farmers.

Jim Wilson, managing director of Soil Essentials –the precision farming company which markets the AgBot in Scotland – said that in the short term, at least, developments to precision spot spraying technology would probably be of more immediate interest to growers.

“The SKAi spot spraying system which detects and sprays only where needed offers an amazing opportunity for farmers to save money – reducing chemical use, crop damage and environmental impact.”

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He said that the ability to identify weed species using machine vision and only treat where it was needed could revolutionise spraying and could reduce chemical usage by as much as 95%.

At a cost of around £70,000 for the equipment, he estimated that savings of around £100 per ha could be made – meaning that the unit could pay for itself over as little as 700 ha.

“For grassland farmers we’ve found an average saving of 88% when controlling dock infestations – alongside the other benefits of no check to the main crop and the fact that clover in mixed swards isn’t harmed, allowing savings on fertiliser to be maintained,” said Mr Wilson.

He added that the unit could be ‘retrained’ to identify a wide range of problem weeds in different crops.