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SBIR Phase I:Precision Weeder

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2151435
Agency Tracking Number: 2151435
Amount: $250,665.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: R
Solicitation Number: NSF 21-562
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-09-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-08-31
Small Business Information
United States
DUNS: 079579425
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Stephen Jens
 (781) 929-5161
Business Contact
 Stephen Jens
Phone: (781) 929-5161
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is that it will help address the major concerns of climate change and sustainability of arable lands. The two common methods of weed control in the agricultural industry, herbicides and soil tillage, have a negative impact on the environment and soil sustainability. The health of the microbial environment in the soil is degraded by the use of herbicides and soil tillage. In addition, soil tillage exposes the organic matter in the soil to oxidation releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The goal for reducing the impact of agricultural practices on the climate is to sequester the carbon in the soil and not release it. At this time, the only option for weed control of mid to late stage weeds without the use of herbicides or soil tillage is manual labor, which is more expensive. The successful development and testing of the precision weeder extraction tool will give the agricultural industry an automated and cost effective option for addressing weed control while helping to reduce the carbon emission from the soil and protect soil sustainability.This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project involves the development of a robotic end effector extraction tool that can remove weeds without using chemicals or soil tillage. Advances in machine vision have made it possible to identify the individual plants in a field and determine which plant is the crop and which one is the weed. Presently, the two predominant methods used by automated weeders to kill the weeds is either by a targeted herbicide spray or soil tillage. Both of these methods negatively impact the environment and soil health. The proposed precision weeder will extract and dispose of the weeds without damage to the soil or environment. The economics of weeding will require the device to be simple, cost effective, reliable, and field hardened. Design and development of the extraction tool will use a new and novel method for removing the weeds with advances in design and actuation. The extraction tool will be tested in the field to determine its feasibility. Successful field trials will convince the customer and investor that this is a viable option for commercial automated weeding.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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