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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #365259

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

Location: Application Technology Research

Title: Control of insect pests and diseases in an Ohio fruit farm with a laser-guided intelligent sprayer

item Chen, Liming
item WALLHEAD, MATTHEW - University Of Maine
item Reding, Michael - Mike
item Horst, Leona
item Zhu, Heping

Submitted to: HortTechnology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/26/2019
Publication Date: 4/1/2020
Citation: Chen, L., Wallhead, M., Reding, M.E., Horst, L., Zhu, H. 2020. Control of insect pests and diseases in an Ohio fruit farm with a laser-guided intelligent sprayer. HortTechnology. 30(2):168-175.

Interpretive Summary: In commercial fruit production, producers usually use constant-rate sprayers to apply excessive amounts of pesticide to control a variety of insect and disease pests. To increase pesticide application efficiency and minimize the amount of pesticide reaching non-target areas, an intelligent variable-rate orchard sprayer was developed to control spray outputs based on the presence, structure and foliage density of plants. In this research, the intelligent variable-rate sprayer was evaluated for its pesticide use and control of insect and disease pests in apple, peach, blueberry and raspberry plants in a commercial fruit farm for two consecutive growing seasons. Conventional constant-rate spray applications were also used as the standard spray practice for comparison. Two-year on-farm field tests demonstrated that the intelligent variable-rate sprayer used 29% to 59% lower amounts of pesticides in the four different fruit crops, while the treatments were equal to or more effective in insect and disease controls than those of constant rate sprayers. The intelligent sprayer provided a highly efficient, and environmentally friendly pesticide application technology for the fruit production industry to reduce production costs by reducing pesticide use and waste.

Technical Abstract: Intelligent spray technologies can significantly reduce pesticide use with a positive impact on the environment. However, there have been no reports on applying this technology to commercial fruit farms. Comparative experiments of intelligent variable-rate and conventional constant-rate spray applications for pesticide use and pest control were conducted at a fruit farm in Ohio, USA during two consecutive growing seasons. Apple (Malus pumila), peach (Prunus persica), blueberry (Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus) and raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) were used for the tests. Pest severity of codling moth (Cydia pomonella), oriental fruit moth (Grapholitha molesta), scab and powdery mildew in apple trees, oriental fruit moth (Grapholitha molesta), brown rot and powdery mildew in peach trees, spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), mummyberry and phomopsis in blueberry and anthracnose in black raspberry, were assessed. There was less or equal severity of pests between intelligent and conventional spray applications while the intelligent spray reduced pesticide use by 58.6%, 28.9%, 47.5% and 53.1% on average in apple, peach, blueberry and raspberry, respectively. These results demonstrate that intelligent spray technology is more environmentally friendly than standard spray technology and equally or more effective for control of insect and disease pests in fruit farms.