Sep. 1, 2009 - Aug. 31, 2014Award Number
USDA - CSREESAmount Awarded
Heping Zhu, Ph.D.
USDA - ARS
Ozkan, H., Derksen, R., Reding, M., Ranger, C., Canas, L., Krause, C., Locke, J., Ernst, S., Zondag, R., Fulcher, A., and Rosetta, R.Summary
Current application technology for floral, nursery, and other specialty crop production wastes significant amounts of pesticides. Innovative new spray technologies would benefit the production of these crops and institutes with on-going or future SCRI- funded projects. The proposed research is to develop two affordable intelligent spray systems for floral and nursery crops, and these developments are adaptable to other specialty crops. The proposed systems have five major modules: (a) first, an intelligent acquisition and control unit continuously characterizes size, shape, foliage density, foliar surface, and target crop location, ultimately controlling spray output; (b) an expert computer subsystem incorporates microclimatic conditions with pest prediction models for selection of formulations and application schedules to control specific insect/disease problems; (c) an in-line unit injects predetermined concentrates into a carrier near the nozzles, avoiding leftover tank mixtures; (d) then, in either system, a delivery subsystem with an array of multi-jet nozzles is incorporated capable of variable air and liquid discharge rates; and lastly, (e) an off-target recovery unit traps sprays not retained on the crop. Moreover, depending on crop requirements, each module can be used or disassembled independently. With these systems, pest pressures and crop structures govern the amount, kind and frequency of spray applications, avoiding excessive spray-mixture and off-target waste. At completion, the proposed project enhances the prospects that future sprayers will be more efficient, reliable, and operator-friendly. These sprayers will deliver pest control formulations in an economical, accurate, timely and environmentally sustainable manner, with optimal human and operator safety.