State-of-the-art weed control…with a hoe and a camera
Dutch company Machinefabriek Steketee BV has been part of the Lemken Group since August 2018. Steketee mechanical weed control technology impresses with innovative hoeing and camera technology solutions for automatic machine control.
Each Steketee hoe is configured individually to meet farmers’ needs: crop type; row width; precision of sowing; soil type and conditions; topography; tractor track width; and inter-row or intra-row tillage are all considered in selecting the required components.
Three different baseline elements meet even the most diverse requirements. The Basic-Element is particularly well suited for light conditions and low crops in tightly-spaced rows, such as lettuces and other vegetable crops. It allows for a minimum row distance of 15cm and an under-frame clearance of 50cm.
The Combi-Element was developed for medium to heavy conditions with a minimum row distance of 20cm and an under-frame clearance of 70cm. It is available with a hydraulic lifting system and the option of applying pressure on tools.
The TRS-Element is ideal for very heavy conditions, minimum row distances of 20cm and an under-frame clearance of 70cm.
Effectively destroying weed roots
When selecting tools, soil conditions need to be taken into account, above all. Mechanical weed control is based on weeds being uprooted, cut off and buried, ideally at the seedling stage of their growth.
A range of knives, shares and mounts are available for this purpose. The product range is complemented by numerous other tools for optimising weed control, and a wide variety of band-spraying options is also available.
Steketee hoeing equipment comes with a range of steering systems, which control a parallelogram frame independently of the tractor to guide the hoe precisely inside and along the rows.
For manual control, there is a seat from which a second operator can guide the hoe using a joystick. Row control can also be corrected via GPS.
The internally-developed IC-Light automatic camera control system recognises hues of green or the RGB colour space, which is particularly useful for red-leafed lettuces or yellowish crops in low-nitrogen environments and allows precise row control.
A self-learning function prevents colour differences from affecting camera-guided control. The camera collects data for guidance from one to five rows of crops. In optimal conditions, the camera corrects row control at ground speeds of up to 15kph.
The IC-Weeder is an automatic hoe which uses camera images to calculate the position of cultivated plants and then hoe carefully and precisely around them. It uses standard hoeing blades between rows and pneumatically-controlled sickle-shaped blades to hoe between plants within rows.
The cameras are located under a hood to shield them against ambient light for precise plant recognition, and the detection area is evenly lit by LED lights.
The cameras cover a 75cm field of view, with both the colour and size of cultivated plants and the expected plant position being used to determine the distance between plants. The maximum working width is 6m and the maximum operating speed is 3kph.
By including Steketee in its product portfolio, Lemken aims to provide farmers with holistic solutions which enable them to successfully meet the ever-more stringent societal expectations and legal requirements regarding crop care.