ECONOMIC ANALYSIS FOR INTELLIGENT SPRAY APPLICATION IN FLORAL AND ORNAMENTAL NURSERY CROP PRODUCTION
Application Technology Research Unit
2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Analyze the impact of intelligent spraying technologies on the floral and nursery crop production
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Two advanced and affordable spray systems will be developed to employ intelligent technologies to continuously match system operating parameters to crop characteristics, insect/disease pressures and microclimatic conditions during pesticide applications. Economic analyses will be conducted to determine the savings that growers can gain by using the new sprayers and by the potential environmental cost remediation. The economic analysis studies will include (1) establishment of cost categories related to the use of sprayers through guided key informant interviews and expert listening sessions related to the use of existing technologies as previously described; (2) time studies of existing technologies/techniques to determine baseline costs to target both the design of and training in the use of the new equipment; (3) production cost parameters for the new equipment that will be applied to the project’s design phase; (4) application costs of the new technology including time studies and assessment of changes in material usage; (5) potential environmental gains from reduced spray application; and (6) potential gains to social capital (e.g. public relations value) achieved by reduced pesticide usage and increased application control.
Researchers initiated interviews with nursery growers, extension educators and researchers to identify crop production costs in nurseries. Protocols were formulated for analyzing costs of spray applications with conventional sprayers and with the sprayer under development. Data was collected from laboratory and field tests on spray application rates from conventional and new intelligent sprayers. Researchers worked on establishing methodology for collecting economic costs related to use of new intelligent sprayers. Laboratory test results have demonstrated the intelligent air-assisted sprayer could save spray volume by 47% to 73% and the intelligent boom sprayer could save spray volume by 58 to 86% with significantly less off-target losses on the ground, through gaps between trees, and in the air. Economic benefits from the efficiency and accuracy of the intelligent sprayers are being analyzed.
This project addresses critical elements for the development of precision sprayer technology envisioned in ARS parent project Objective 1 “Develop precision sprayers that can continuously match canopy characteristics to deliver agrichemicals and bio-products accurately to nursery and fruit crops”.