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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #437778

Research Project: Coordinated Precision Application Technologies for Sustainable Pest Management and Crop Protection

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21620-001-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 1, 2020
End Date: Jan 31, 2025

Objective:
The long-term objective of this research is to advance spray applications with coordinated intelligent-decision technologies and strategies that enhance pesticide application efficiency and environmental stewardship for efficacious and affordable control of pest insects, diseases and weeds. Objective 1: Develop intelligent precision technologies to efficiently apply pesticides and bio-products for efficacious and sustainable control of pest insects and arthropods, diseases and weeds to protect horticultural, field and greenhouse crops. Sub-objective 1.1: Develop a reliable and user-friendly intelligent spray-decision system as a retrofit for new and existing air-assisted sprayers to deliver pesticides and bio-products accurately, economically, and environmentally for field specialty crops. Sub-objective 1.2: Develop greenhouse intelligent spray systems for real-time control of individual nozzle outputs to improve spray deposition quality and reduce waste of water and chemicals. Objective 2: Develop coordinated application methodologies to reduce pesticide use, reduce crop protection costs, reduce chemical contaminations to the environment, and protect workers, livestock, natural resources and sensitive ecosystems. Sub-objective 2.1: Improve spray droplet fading process to maximize coverage area after deposition on plants through coordinating spray parameters including droplet size, formulation physical properties, plant surface morphology, and ambient air conditions. Sub-objective 2.2: Improve spray droplet retention and reduce runoff on plants through coordinating the influences of droplet size and velocity, travel speed, spray formulation physical properties, crop leaf surface morphology, and leaf surface orientation on dynamic impact, retention, rebound and spread process of spray droplets on plants.

Approach:
A versatile intelligent spray control system and mounting kits will be developed as a retrofit to different types of tractor-driven sprayers to deliver pesticides and bio-products for different specialty crops. A microprocessor controlled premixing inline injection module will be developed and integrated into the versatile spray control system. Performance of these sprayers will be tested for their accuracy to manipulate spray deposition, spray drift, off-target loss and spray volume consumption in comparison with conventional sprayers. Efficacy tests will be conducted in nurseries, apple orchards and vineyards to compare pest control, pesticide quantity used, and cost savings for the sprayers with and without intelligent functions. Spray drift models will be developed to predict movement of droplets discharged from conventional and intelligent sprayers under nursery, orchard and vineyard conditions. Greenhouse intelligent spray systems will be developed for real-time control of individual nozzle outputs to improve spray deposition quality and reduce waste of water and chemicals. The automatic greenhouse spray system will be a retrofit attached to existing watering booms. Laboratory tests will be conducted to validate the spray control system accuracies in spray delay time, nozzle activation and spray volume using artificial objects of different regular geometric shapes and surface textures, and artificial plants of different canopy structures. Spray deposition and pest control efficacy tests in greenhouses will then be conducted to validate the intelligent spray control system. Microscopic spray droplet spreading times and areas on leaves will be investigated to maximize and stabilize coverage area after deposition on plants. Investigation parameters include droplet size, formulation physical properties, plant surface morphology, and ambient air conditions. Droplet fading rate, absorption rate and residual pattern coverage area will be measured on the waxy, semi-waxy and hairy leaf surfaces, and hydrophilic and hydrophobic glass slide surfaces. Field experiments will be conducted in ornamental nurseries, orchards, greenhouses, vegetables, traditional crops and weeds to verify laboratory discoveries effects of the most influenced factors on droplet spreading areas. Dynamic effects of spray parameters on the droplet impact, rebound, retention, adhesion, and spread process on plants will be determined. The parameters are droplet size and velocity, travel speed, spray formulation type, and leaf surface morphology and orientation. Significance of coordinating these parameters to improve spray droplet retention and reduce runoff on plants will be analyzed. Dynamic impact of water-based droplets on plant leaves will also be investigated in a wind tunnel under controlled conditions.