Chase Schapansky stands in front of a GUSS (Global Unmanned Spray System) a first-or-its-kind, self-propelled, autonomous-driving agricultural sprayer he designed and oversaw the construction of for Crinklaw Farm Services, Inc., near Kingsburg. Photo by David Castellon.
Written by David Castellon
The World Ag Expo has announced the winners of its Top-10 New Products Competition and one of them was developed and is being manufactured near Kingsburg.
Developers of the Global Unmanned Spray System — or “GUSS” — call it the world’s first fully-autonomous, driverless orchard sprayer, meaning it is can be programmed to drive itself between rows of trees while spreading pesticides and other agricultural chemicals via a powerful blower in the black.
A combination of GPS tracking and lasers mounted on the vehicle help keep it on track.
“GUSS helps alleviate the ever-growing labor challenges faced by the agricultural industry,” states the news release for the Top-10 New Products at the Ag Expo, the world’s largest agricultural trade show that will run Feb 13-15, 2018, at the International Agri Center in Tulare.
“GUSS is inherently more efficient than manned equipment, being that it doesn’t get tired, need to stop for meal breaks or call in sick. Precision is maximized by setting exact speeds and application rates into the machine that are maintained across the entire field. A data file depicting coverage, speed, products applied and application rate is provided to the grower upon completion of the spray job,” the announcement continues. “GUSS is a revolutionary new technology that will help usher in the future of agriculture!”
The contest judges were made up of farmers, ranchers and industry professionals who considered 34 new agricultural products from around the world.
Of the winners, nine came from American companies — with three from California — including TruckClaws, a device that can be attached to truck tires when they’re stuck in mud; Thymox, a highly-concentrated footbath for cows that claims to be a more environmentally-friendly method of treating hairy heel warts; Well Watch 700, which uses sound waves to monitor well levels; and the ANDROS MegaBinder LRV, a device that retrieves and compacts used drip-tape and mulch film in fields into dense, uniform rolls for easy handling so they can be recycled.
The only winner not from a U.S. company is Solar Shrink plastic mulch film out of Queensland, Australia. Plastic mulch is made of sheets of plastic laid over row crops with slits or holes to let the crop grow through them.
Australia’s Hydrox Technologies, which developed the product, says its wrap shrinks slightly in the sun, and “A tight sheet transmits more heat to the soil allowing for an earlier start to the season and prevents the sheet from billowing in the wind, which pumps out heat and moisture from beneath the sheet,” according to the Expo’s website.
During the Expo, banners designating the Top-10 winners will be placed at their respective booths to help the public find them.
Developers of GUSS said they plan to demonstrate their machine at the Expo.
The World Ag Expo draws annually more than 1000,000 visitors from 70 different countries and features more than 1,400 vendors and exhibitors.
For more information about the event and to see the full Top-10 list, go online to www.worldagexpo.com.