Could weed sensing in corn interrows result in efficient weed control?
At the field scale, weeds generally appear aggregated rather than randomly distributed, and this aggregation is linked to the spatial heterogeneity of biotic and abiotic factors. Crop management practices shape the spatial pattern of weed infestations by modifying certain factors having an impact on weed emergence and growth. Although crop seeding is often the last infield disturbance before crop and weed emergence, its effect on the distribution of weeds has received little attention in the literature. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of the planting operation on weed cover and presence in corn fields using digital images to investigate the possibility of sensing the interrow to infer the presence or absence of weeds on the corn row. A total of 18 site-years under conventional tillage treated with a single POST application of herbicide were selected across seven locations. Image analysis, at the V2 to V4 growth stage of corn, was used to compare the weed cover in three zones: the undisturbed interrows, the corn rows, and the interrows compacted by tractor wheel traffic. For 61% of site-years, there was no significant difference among the zones. When there was a significant difference compared with the other two zones, the undisturbed interrow was usually less infested. Point-to-point comparisons of weed presence or absence (based on a threshold of five pixels) between the interrow and the corn row revealed 70 or 73% correspondence, depending on the type of interrow (undisturbed or tracked). However the error of inference of the corn row weed cover generated by sensing only adjacent interrows may be too high for efficient commercial weed control.
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