In three spraying units, the plants are sprayed with the substance to see if there is any effect. (Image: Turck)

Plant identification with RFID

Bayer CropScience tests new active components with RFID-support from Turck!

Scientists from Bayer CropScience AG test new active components for their suitability as agricultural pesticides by spraying them onto plants in an automated system. The RFID-system, BL ident, from Turck guarantees transparency and the clear identification of each plant.

In their research laboratories in Monheim, Germany, scientists at Bayer CropScience are continuously looking for new active components with the help of new and modern machines. One of the first steps in this process is called primary-screening. During this process, the newly developed substances are tested for their effectiveness by applying them onto plants automatically.

Fully automatic primary-screening 

Bayer CropScience developed a fully automatic spraying line for the primary-screening process that manages more than 25,000 spraying operations every year. During each application cycle, three plant sets are sprayed with three different test components simultaneously. The plant sets contain the host plants for eight plant diseases. 

The most important factor during this process is the clear identification of the plant sets and the correlation to the substances applied to them. Originally, barcode-stickers were used, but the machines were recently updated with contact-free RFID-technology.

During the search for the ideal RFID-solution, the technical project-team considered various different systems and providers. In the end, the decision was made in favor of the BL ident RFID system from Turck. 

Easy handling with CoDeSys 

For Volker Bachmann, a specialist for controls in the Robotik department at Tectrion, BL ident has another unbeatable advantage: “Turck's RFID-System is programmable with CoDeSys and therefore creates the flexibility to outsource complex actions to the controls on-site. That is how we unburden the computer that controls the test procedure.” 

During the change to RFID, the technicians from Tetricon had to equip about 1,000 plant pots with a tag that was glued to the center of the pot. Each tag has a memory space of 128 Byte and contains all the information regarding the specific plant. 

A Turck Q80 combined read/write RFID head writes and reads the data directly after the plant pots have left the spraying units. Another read/write head is located at the spot where the plant pots leave the machine. If the machine fails or the pots have to be identified for some other reason, Bayer employees can read the current status of the pots with a handheld RFID reader.

The read/write heads send RFID signals to the BL20 modular remote I/O system. With the help of a special RFID disc, the data is collected and transferred to a gateway that carries out the local RFID communication, so that only reference data has to be sent to the main computer via Modbus TCP. 

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Bernd Wieseler
Bernd Wieseler
Director Product Management RFID Systems
Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany
Klaus Albers
Klaus Albers
Director Marketing Services & Public Relations
Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany
Jan-Oliver Uhlmann
Jan-Oliver Uhlmann
Project Management Identification Systems
Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany
René Steiner
René Steiner
Business Development Manager for RIFD Systems
Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany
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