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Field experiments were conducted for 3 yr to determine the effect of various biological and physical factors on the operation of the weed-sensing Detectspray system. Plant detection is achieved by sensors measuring differential reflectance of red and near-infrared wavelengths of light from green plants, crop residues, and soil. Weed detection was greatly reduced 70 to 80 min after sunrise and before sunset when operated at lat 50°N because of reduced solar irradiance. Tall, dense-standing crop stubble limited detection of small weeds at the soil surface. Weed detection varied with plant species. Canola with three to four leaves consistently was detected, but wheat or green foxtail usually required five to six leaves to be detected. Small weeds were detected if present at densities greater than 70 plants m−2. Growers and commercial applicators need to be aware of the limitations of the Detectspray system to use it effectively to control weeds with concurrent reductions in herbicide use.
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