Weed Control: What stays the same, what changes: Business Model Innovation in Farming
Weed control is an essential task for farmers and cultivators, dating back to ancient times. In the past, weed control was done manually, which was labor-intensive and time-consuming. Later, herbicides provided a new tool for farmers to control weeds more efficiently. However, with the rise of concerns over the environmental impact of herbicides, a new innovation has emerged: robots designed to control weeds.
The eternal job-to-be-done in agriculture: Weed Control
The job-to-be-done, weed control, has stayed the same for generations, but the solutions and business models associated with weed control have evolved. Farmers have long recognized the importance of weed control, but traditional methods such as hand-pulling were not only labor-intensive but also impractical for large-scale farming. Herbicides made farmers in weed control extremely more productive and fewer farmers could still feed the ever growing world population. A huge productivity gain, but herbicides also raised concerns about environmental impacts and potential health risks.
Robots: New technology and new business models for the same job-to-be-doe
As a result of digitalization, AI and robots, new innovations have emerged in recent years, including the use of robots to control weeds. Companies such as Blue River Technology and FarmWise have developed robots that can identify and remove weeds from fields, without the need for herbicides or manual labor.
Blue River for Optimization of the use of herbicedes
Blue River Technology’s See & Spray robot uses computer vision to identify weeds and then sprays herbicides only on the targeted weeds, avoiding unnecessary use of herbicides. The robot can also learn from its mistakes and become more accurate over time, reducing the need for manual intervention. This approach to weed control not only saves farmers time and labor but also reduces the amount of herbicides used, making it a more sustainable solution. This not yet a total substitution of herbicides with manual weeding, but a way to optimize the use of herbicides.
FarmWise as a mechanical substitute for chemical weed control
FarmWise has also developed a robot that can identify and remove weeds from fields. Their robot uses machine learning to identify weeds and then uses a robotic arm to remove them from the ground. This approach to weed control eliminates the need for herbicides and also reduces soil disturbance, which can have additional benefits for crop health.
These innovations in weed control demonstrate the power of business model innovation to address persistent problems in agriculture. The job-to-be-done of weed control has remained constant over time, but the solutions and business models associated with weed control have continued to evolve. By leveraging the latest technologies, companies are providing farmers with more efficient and sustainable ways to control weeds, reducing labor costs, and minimizing the environmental impact of agriculture.
In conclusion, the development of weed control robots represents a significant step forward in the evolution of weed control solutions. As farmers face increasing pressure to adopt more sustainable practices, these innovations offer new ways to tackle weed control without resorting to herbicides or manual labor. By leveraging the latest in machine learning and computer vision technologies, companies are creating business models that are more efficient and sustainable than ever before, demonstrating the power of innovation to solve persistent problems in agriculture.