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Heping Zhu

Agricultural Engineer


Heping Zhu

1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, Ohio 44691, USA

Phone: (330) 465-4101


Dr. Zhu is assigned to lead the resolution of a wide range of complex, persistent, intractable, and conflicting objectives that simultaneously enhance the science of pesticide applications for protecting crops while conforming to stringent environmental mandates. His research directly supports and impacts the goals of ARS National Program 305-Crop Production and interacts across fields that range from macroscopic delivery systems to microscopic biological reactions of pest-control agents on plants. He provides scientific and technical leadership to pioneer and conceive new hypotheses and concepts for next generations of sustainable digital intelligent spray technology innovations, formulate cooperations among national and international multidisciplinary team members, and transfer the developed technologies to commercial agricultural and industrial production.


Many of Dr. Zhu’s research outcomes have been transferred to end users for adoption or adaptation to reduce pesticide use, reduce crop protection cost, reduce environmental contamination, and protect workers, livestock, natural resources, and ecosystems. He pioneered the big-data technology dated back to early 1990s and developed a user-friendly computer program DRIFTSIM that predicts spray drift potentials to overcome field experimentation constraints. He synthesized diverse engineering principles for the developments of a patented paint spray atomizer, premixing chemical direct in-line injection system, and biological pesticide delivery systems. He developed a portable spray deposition analyzer and DepositScan program to quickly determine the spray deposition quality for improving chemical application. He separated the critical components that would enhance efficiencies and efficacies of pesticide applications and developed unique high-speed image systems to measure and characterize single droplet impaction, retention, dispersion, evaporation and residual pattern formation on plant surfaces, which bridges engineering and biological researchers to elucidate the droplet biological reaction on targets and develop new chemical formulations and application strategies. He analyzed the interrelationships of the spray application process for pest control and established a comprehensive “half-rate” pesticide application strategy to reduce pesticide use for nursery production. Based on the “half-rate” outcomes, he led multidisciplinary teams to invent the world-first laser-guided precision spray technology and then a universal intelligent spray control system as a retrofit for conventional standard sprayers. This new intelligent spray technology has revolutionized the 80-year-old air-blast spray technology, and was commercialized by Smart Apply, Inc (acquired by John Deere in July,2023) to provide new opportunities for engineers, biologists, and growers to modernize integrated pest management programs with an economic and environment-responsible approach to enhancing crop production. His accomplishments were recognized by numerous prestigious honors including the USDA-ARS MWA “Early-Career Research Scientist of the Year” Award and “Senior Scientist of the Year” Award, National Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer, the Fellow of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), and the 2023 ASABE Cyrus Hall McCormick-Jerome Increase Case Gold Medal.


Dr. Zhu’s current research program focuses on discovering conceptual and developmental bases for coordinated macro and micro precision application methodologies and strategies to enhance efficiencies and efficacies of pest control agents and bio-regulating compounds while safeguarding the environment. His recent projects include:


 Dr. Heping Zhu Google Scholar 


Professional Experience:

9/1983 - 7/1990       Graduate Research Associate, Jiangsu University, China.

12/1990-3/1997       Post-doc Agricultural Engineer and Research Associate, Agricultural Engineering Department, The Ohio State University/USDA ARS, Application Technology Research Unit, Wooster, OH (also admitted as a part-time graduate student between 9/1995 and 12/1996).

4/1997 - 9/1998       Project Engineer, Titan Tool Inc., Oakland, NJ.

10/1998-12/2000      Senior Project Engineer, Graco Inc., Minneapolis, MN.

1/2001- 4/2003        Agricultural Engineer, USDA, ARS, National Peanut Research Laboratory, Dawson, GA.

4/2003 – present      Agricultural Engineer and Lead Scientist, USDA-ARS, Application Technology Research Unit, Wooster, OH.



1983                      B. S., Mechanical Engineering in Farm Machinery, Jiangsu University

1986                      M. S., Mechanical Engineering in Farm Machinery, Jiangsu University

1990                      Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering in Farm Machinery, Jiangsu University

1996                      Ph.D., Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University (Cumulative GPA: 4.0/4.0)