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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICAL, MICROCLIMATE, AND TRANSPORT PROCESSES AFFECTING PEST CONTROL APPLICATION TECHNOLOGY

Location: Application Technology Research Unit

Title: Development of Two Intelligent Spray Systems for Ornamental Nurseries

Authors
item Zhu, Heping
item Jeon, Hong Young
item Chen, Yu -
item Gu, Jiabing -
item Ozkan, H Erdal -
item Derksen, Richard
item Reding, Michael
item Ranger, Christopher
item Canas, Luis -
item Krause, Charles
item Locke, James
item Zondag, Randall -
item Ernst, Stanley -
item Fulcher, Amy -
item Rosetta, Robin -

Submitted to: International Plant Propagators Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 8, 2011
Publication Date: May 20, 2012
Citation: Zhu, H., Jeon, H., Chen, Y., Gu, J., Ozkan, H., Derksen, R.C., Reding, M.E., Ranger, C.M., Canas, L., Krause, C.R., Locke, J.C., Zondag, R.H., Ernst, S.C., Fulcher, A., Rosetta, R. 2012. Development of Two Intelligent Spray Systems for Ornamental Nurseries. International Plant Propagators Proceedings. 60:41-46.

Interpretive Summary: The ornamental industry produces an abundance of flowers, nursery shrubs and trees to beautify our environment and improve our lifestyle. This abundance is predicated on the use of pesticides to protect them from pests. However, the application efficiency of conventional pesticide spray technologies for crop protection is very low. Consequently, excessive pesticides are often applied to target and non-target areas, resulting in greater production costs, worker exposure to unnecessary pesticide risks, and adverse contamination of the environment. Two advanced experimental spray systems were developed that employed intelligent technologies to continuously match system operating parameters to crop characteristics with minimum human inputs during the pesticide spray application process. Significance of this research would be to provide critical technology to increase application efficiency and reduce uncertainty associated with current pesticide sprayers used in ornamental nursery and tree crop production, and to achieve real cost benefits to producers, consumers and environments with newly pesticide application strategies.

Technical Abstract: Current application technology for floral, nursery, and other specialty crop production wastes significant amounts of pesticides. Two different real-time variable-rate sprayer prototypes for ornamental nursery and tree crops were developed to deliver chemicals on target areas as needed. The first prototype was a hydraulic vertical boom spraying system that used 20 Hz ultrasonic sensors to detect tree size and volume, and the second prototype was an air-assisted spraying system that used a laser scanning sensor to quickly measure the entire tree structure. The automatic controllers developed for the prototypes consisted of computer programs, a signal generation and amplification unit, and pulse width modulated solenoid valves. The controllers analyzed sensor signals and actuated the solenoid valves to automatically provide variable flows to nozzles based on tree characteristics and plant occurrence. Preliminary laboratory and field tests demonstrated that both experimental sprayers had the capability to control spray outputs that continuously matched canopy characteristics in real time, and significantly reduce pesticide spray application rates.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014