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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #314951

Research Project: Improved Pest Control Application Technologies for Sustainable Crop Protection

Location: Application Technology Research

Title: Advance innovations of an intelligent sprayer for nursery and fruit tree crops

Author
item Zhu, Heping

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/22/2015
Publication Date: 7/1/2015
Citation: Zhu, H. 2015. Advance innovations of an intelligent sprayer for nursery and fruit tree crops. Popular Publication. July/August 2015: 20-21.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Conventional spray application technology requires excessive amounts of pesticide use to achieve effective pest control in floral, nursery, and other specialty crop productions. This onerous challenge is now overcome by our newly developed automated variable-rate, air-assisted precision sprayer. This automatically-processed spraying system is able to characterize the presence, size, shape, and foliage density of target trees and applies the optimum amount of pesticide in real time. It integrates a high-speed laser scanning sensor in conjunction with a non-contact Doppler radar travel speed sensor, a sophisticated automatic nozzle flow rate controller, an embedded computer, a touch screen, a manual switch box, and four five-port nozzle manifolds on each side of the sprayer. Field experiments have shown that the precision sprayer, as compared to conventional sprayers with best pest management practices, reduces variations in spray deposition due to changes in tree structure and species and increases consistency of spray deposition uniformity on targets at different growth stages. Pest control efficacies of the new sprayers are comparable to those of conventional sprayers, while the new sprayer reduces average pesticide use by 46% to 68% and with an average pesticide cost savings of $230 per acre. Additional tests in an apple orchard demonstrate that the new sprayer reduces spray loss beyond tree canopies by 40% to 87%, airborne spray drift by up to 87%, and spray loss on the ground by 68% to 93%. This new precision spraying system has significantly advanced the technology for efficient variable-rate pesticide spray applications, and it offers an environmentally responsible approach to controlling insects and diseases.