Project: Separation of weeds during harvesting and hygienisation to enhance crop productivity in the long term

Acronym Sweedhart (Reference Number: 105)
Duration 01/05/2016 - 30/04/2019
Project Topic The Sweedhart project aims at studying concepts to reduce the weed pollution of fields with a concurrent benefit via biomass utilization. During the last years the weed pollution of fields has become an increasing problem. Currently, application of herbicides is the predominating method to control weeds, but the existing herbicides become more and more ineffective due to evolution and spread of herbicide resistant weeds. Furthermore, alternatives to design new herbicides seem to be more or less depleted which leads to new weed problems worldwide. Thus it is crucial to address the growing problem of weed infestation which poses a serious threat to the food security. Sweedhart tackles this problem by investigating alternative concepts to reduce weed pollution of fields without herbicide application, and to increase biomass production by utilizing chaff. 25 % of all biomass in crop production is chaff and normally remains unused after harvesting. This fraction contains huge amounts of mature and vigor weed seeds; notwithstanding it is returned to fields without treatment despite its usability for energetic and material purposes. Thus, this procedure provides the next generation of abundant weeds on the fields. One concept of Sweedhart aims to thermal disinfect weed seeds during harvesting by using machine internal waste heat from the exhaust gases of the harvester to inhibit the germination capacity. Sweedhart scrutinizes the viability and the dimension of impact mitigation from weed pollution control. Further concepts will investigate innovative handling of chaff to reduce the weed pollution of fields. This will encompass several options for chaff collection, removal of chaff from the field, and finally studies on chances for further chaff use. The project supposes a chaff use in energetic processes, as material and as a potential feed source. By using it for energetic purposes (e.g. incineration) as a renewable source CO2-emissions can be reduced. The project outcome will provide a catalogue of successful, sustainable measures to hamper the weed pollution of fields to counteract the growing problems of herbicide resistant and invasive weeds. At the same time, the measures include a significant potential to intensify sustainably agriculture in terms of gaining new biomass fractions for energetic, material or feed use in order to follow the route towards a bio-based economy. The Sweedhart consortium consists of 1 industrial partner and 3 scientific ones and is coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Germany. The other partners are the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with the Department of Biotechnology, the University of Copenhagen from Denmark with the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the industrial partner is represented by the international company CLAAS Selbstfahrende Erntemaschinen GmbH from Germany.
Website visit project website

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Wissenschaft e. V. Coordinator Germany
2 Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Partner Norway
3 University of Copenhagen Partner Denmark
4 CLAAS Selbstfahrende Erntemaschinen GmbH Partner Germany