Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 11, 2009
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
Citation: Huang, Y., Hoffmann, W.C., Lan, Y., Wu, W., Fritz, B.K. 2009. Development of a Spray System for An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Platform. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 25(6):803-809. Interpretive Summary: In typical agricultural production systems, aerial application is used to apply chemicals over a large area. When transitioning to a site specific production system, chemical application is often needed for small sections of the field. Conventional aerial application is often difficult to use under these conditions. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is a helicopter without a pilot. It is remotely controlled or fillies autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans with automated control systems. An UAV has the potential to replace the conventional aerial aircraft when low volume spray is needed over a relatively small area and for application in vector control applications. Research was conducted to evaluate the UAV concept for site specific application of pesticide. A UAV was successfully equipped with a low volume spray system to demonstrate the potential of such a system.
Technical Abstract: Application of crop production and protection materials is a crucial component in the high productivity of American agriculture. Agricultural chemical application is frequently needed at specific times and locations for accurate site-specific management of crop pests. Piloted agricultural aircraft are typically used to treat large, unobstructed, continuous acreage crops and are not as efficient when working over small or obstructed plots. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans, may be used to make timely and efficient applications over these small area plots. This research developed a low volume spray system for use on a fully autonomous UAV to apply crop protection products on specified crop areas. This study discusses the development of the spray system and its integration with the flight control system of a fully autonomous, unmanned vertical take-off and landing helicopter. Sprayer actuation can be triggered by preset positional coordinates as monitored by the equipped Global Positioning System (GPS). The developed spray system has the potential to provide for accurate, site-specific crop management when coupled with UAV systems. It also has great potential for vector control in the areas that are not easily accessible by personnel or equipment.