Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Crop Production Systems Research » Research » Research Project #435912

Research Project: Application Technologies to Improve the Effectiveness of Chemical and Biological Crop Protection Materials

Location: Crop Production Systems Research

2020 Annual Report

1. Develop analytical methods and integrate them into decision support tools for effective aerial application. 1.1. Verify new drift modeling paradigms with field data; optimize spray delivery systems for drift reduction considering temporal weather differences in statistical analysis. 1.2. Determine plant injury due to off-target drift by spray sampling, biological measurements, and remote sensing. 1.3. Determine periods of stable atmosphere favorable for long distance movement of spray deleterious to susceptible crops downwind from spray application; quantify the effect of surface conditions with weather and incorporate this information into new guidelines for pilots to reduce potential for off-target movement of spray. 2. Develop laboratory, ground application, and aerial systems for delivery of biological control agents such as non-toxigenic A. flavus for control of mycotoxin and evaluate their effectiveness with bio-assay analysis. 2.1. Determine field conditions that promote fungal contamination using on-the-go soil sensors and remote sensing; map risk zones for targeted application. 2.2. Develop aerial application systems to deliver biological control agents and evaluate effectiveness of control with bio-assay analysis. 3. Develop methodologies that utilize existing remote sensing technologies for user- accessible agricultural aircraft and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) platforms to detect invasive weeds and wild host plants for insect pests and distinguish between herbicide resistant and non-resistant weeds for use in selective spray management strategies. 3.1. Identify spectral signatures and classification techniques to distinguish herbicide resistant from non-herbicide resistant weeds; evaluate imaging sensors using the identified signatures and map the distribution of herbicide resistant weeds for selective spraying. 3.2. Identify spectral bands and classification techniques most useful in discriminating wild host plants of the tarnished plant bug from other land cover features and evaluate airborne imagery acquired to map these plants in and surrounding agricultural fields. 3.3. Develop accessible remote sensing and rapid image processing systems for targeted application that can be operated by agricultural pilots; develop lightweight remote sensing systems requiring minimal user intervention for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

This project seeks to advance application technology through improvements in 1) drift management technologies and models; 2) aerial systems to effectively deliver biological control agents; and 3) remote sensing systems usable by pilots for agricultural aircraft to identify herbicide-damaged plants, invasive weeds, and wild host plants. While drift management is a concern for all pesticide applications, it is of particular concern for aerial applications. The use of herbicide-resistant crop varieties has increased use of glyphosate, both exacerbating the drift problem and giving rise to herbicide resistant weeds that need to be dealt with. Biological control is making headway, but aerial systems are needed to apply these agents. Aerial systems will be developed to effectively deliver liquid formulations of nontoxigenic biological agents to control mycotoxins in corn. Experiments for drift will attempt to reduce confounding of treatment data with environmental effects, preserving statistical precision of the experiments. Specific guidelines for pilots to prevent spraying during temperature inversions will be developed. The deleterious effects of off-target herbicide drift will be detected using spray and biological sampling, and hyperspectral and multispectral remote sensing. Remote sensing will also be used to detect herbicide resistant weeds and wild hosts for plant bug for targeted management. Improvements in remote sensing and rapid image analysis systems will allow accessibility of these systems by agricultural pilots. Autonomous Unmanned Aerial (or ”drone”) platforms will be developed with rapid image analysis capabilities for areas not served by agricultural aircraft. Experiments are also proposed to demonstrate the validity of techniques developed.

Progress Report
This bridging project expired on February 17, 2020. Replaced by new project 6066-22000-081-00D, "Using Aerial Application and Remote Sensing Technologies for Targeted Spraying of Crop Protection Products." The new optical sensing platform has been prototyped and tested to directly detect herbicide spray drift droplets in the categories of ASABE (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers) standard. Conventionally, the spray drift is detected and assessed by adding some tracer in the spray tank mix, such as fluorescence or Rubidium chloride (RbCl) tracer, to correlate the tracer’s concentration with the actual spray deposition downwind. However, a drawback of the conventional method is that adding a tracer can change the herbicide drifting characteristics in the spray tank mix and may mislead understanding of herbicide spray drift in practice. So, by developing this optical method, the spray drift can be measured directly without any tracer additive to make the measured signal intensity be consistent with the actual herbicide drift characteristics. This new sensing system features detection of herbicide drift in real time using near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. Various factors that may affect the precision of the sensing system were analyzed and manipulated in the lab. Then, the response accuracy of the system can be evaluated through field experiments.