"Smart" Sprayer Technology Cuts Pesticide Use
When applying chemicals to floral, nursery, or orchard crops, where the chemical lands is sometimes more important than how much is applied to control stealthy pests and pathogens. One solution being tried involves using lasers—but not to blast these scourges into fiery oblivion. Rather, the lasers are part of a high-speed scanning system that enables new sprayer technology to "see” the size, shape, presence, and density of a fruit tree’s foliage and deliver variable rates of pesticide to it in real time. A team led by ARS scientists in Wooster, OH, developed and tested the smarter sprayer technology. In apple orchard trials, use of the smart sprayer reduced pesticide loss beyond the tree canopy by 40 to 87 percent. The sprayer also prevented between 68 and 93 percent of pesticide from reaching the ground below trees. The 2-ton prototype can treat one to six rows of trees at a time and can be retrofitted onto conventional sprayers commonly used in orchards, nurseries, and vineyards.
Article: Orchard Management Technology