College of Science

COS Assistant Professor of Biology and Chemistry Digs Deeper Into Autonomous Weeders

Dr. Elizabeth Mosqueda, a Bob and Sue Johnson Assistant Professor of Crop Management at CSUMB, was featured in Ag Net West highlighting her research evaluating the effectiveness of autonomous weeders in Salinas Valley.

Automated and autonomous weeders were introduced to California’s lettuce industry for two main reasons, labor and pest management. They typically contain a camera to detect the plant, a computer to analyze the image, and are able to deploy a kill mechanism to remove unwanted plants. Autonomous weeders are different from automated weeders as they do not need a tractor or onboard driver to navigate through the field. These instruments work by GPS marking each corner of a field, making it possible for the autonomous weeder to enter and exit individual beds of lettuce within a field.

Dr. Elizabeth Mosqueda’s research project focused on the performance of the Farmwise Titan and Naio Dino in romaine lettuce fields. This study showed that autonomous weeders removed significantly more weeds within the lettuce seedline compared to standard cultivators. The results of this study are promising, as the Salinas Valley is in need of a solution for the severe crop labor shortage it is currently experiencing. Without proper weeding protocols, the amount of lettuce a crop can produce may be dramatically reduced.

Read the article Autonomous Weeders Showing Promise to learn more about Dr. Mosqueda’s project and 2020 Evaluations of automated weeders in lettuce production for more in-depth information on the study.