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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #433348

Research Project: Advancement of Intelligent Spray Application Technology in Oregon Specialty Crop Production

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21620-001-012-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2017
End Date: Aug 31, 2022

The overall objective of this research is to test a universal intelligent decision spray control system developed by ARS that can be easily retrofitted on conventional equipment for pesticide spray applications in specialty crop production. Specific objectives to achieve the primary goal include: (a) test a universal intelligent-decision spray control system that is retrofitted to existing equipment to increase pesticide application efficiency and reduce off-target losses in nurseries, hazelnut orchards, vineyards, and other specialty crops in Oregon; and (b) integrate the new spray technology into best pest management programs for specialty crop productions.

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers will investigate the intelligent spray system retrofit in Oregon. On-site field tests of equipment fitted with intelligent spray system technology will occur in nurseries, hazelnut orchards, and vineyards in Oregon. The retrofit system is guided with a high-speed laser scanning sensor. Sprayers equipped with the retrofit system detect plant presence, measure plant size, shape and foliage density, and then control each individual nozzle to produce variable-rate outputs based on the plant structure and tractor travel speed. Field trials in nurseries, hazelnut orchards, vineyards, and other specialty crops in Oregon will assess application coverage, drift, and pest management efficacy of equipment with and without the intelligent spray system technology activation. The performance of the equipment with and without the intelligent controller will be evaluated by determining reductions in chemicals and spray volume used per hectare. The results of this research and other relevant information including cost savings and environmental impacts will be disseminated through direct interactions with growers during on-farm tests proposed for this project and through field demonstration events, state pesticide safety education coordinators and Extension agents, Extension websites, state, regional and industry educator events, USDA-ARS website, sprayer manufacturers, and trade shows.