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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Aerial Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #438007

Research Project: Improved Aerial Application Technologies for Precise and Effective Delivery of Crop Production Products

Location: Aerial Application Technology Research

Project Number: 3091-22000-037-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 13, 2020
End Date: Apr 12, 2025

Objective:
OBJECTIVE 1: Develop optimized aerial spray technologies for on-target deposition and drift mitigation for sustainable crop production. Subobjective 1A: Develop decision support systems that support proper selection and use of spray technologies for improved product delivery and drift mitigation. Subobjective 1B: Develop guidance for enhancing deposition uniformity across the effective swath width through proper setup of spray systems to account for the impacts of operational and meteorological conditions. Subobjective 1C: Develop improved application methodologies to mitigate off-target movement and impact of applied sprays. OBJECTIVE 2: Develop and/or evaluate remote sensing technologies for site-specific crop surveillance, assessment, and pest management across multiple imaging platforms and image processing techniques. Research Goal 2A: Determine feasibility of using satellite and aerial imagery for early identification of cotton fields to support the boll weevil eradication program. Subobjective 2B: Evaluate imagery from multiple platforms for effective detection and site-specific management of cotton root rot. Subobjective 2C: Estimate cotton plant height using imagery from manned and unmanned aircraft for variable rate plant growth regulator application.

Approach:
Aerial application is a critical component of American agriculture, accounting for almost 20% of all crop production and protection products applied on commercial farms in the U.S. and near 100% of those applied in forests. Given the scope of the industry, developing an understanding of the physical processes involved in driving the transport and ultimate fate of applied sprays is crucial. To this end, this project’s primary objectives center on developing spray technologies and methods that maximize targeted delivery of products while mitigating adverse impacts to non-target species and the environment and the development and use of remote sensing data to aid in the assessment of crop health and pest location to guide site-specific management of cropping systems. Through laboratory-based wind tunnel research, essential atomization characteristics of nozzles and spray formulations will be determined and incorporated into decision management systems that aid applicators in proper nozzle selection and operation. Field studies will then be used to optimize spray boom and nozzle positions on the boom that provide uniform coverage patterns under given application airspeeds and heights and in given meteorological conditions while minimizing the potential for off-target movement and damage to non-target species. Further, remote sensing data acquisition and analysis methods will be developed to determine site-specific crop and pest conditions and guide precision application of crop production inputs and pest management decisions.