Laser-guided ‘intelligent’ sprayer is good for all kinds of green

A CFAES research team has developed a laser-guided pesticide sprayer, for use by orchards, vineyards and nurseries, that gives control of diseases and pests but uses less pesticide to do it. Farmers’ wallets, food safety and the environment stand to gain.

Wins CFAES Innovator of the Year Award

The invention earned the team a 2018 CFAES Innovator of the Year Award, which was presented last month at the college’s Annual Research Conference.

The members of the team were Erdal Ozkan, professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE); Luis Canas, associate professor in the Department of Entomology; Michael Reding, adjunct professor, Entomology; Christopher Ranger, adjunct professor, Entomology; and Heping Zhu, adjunct professor, FABE. The award also recognized the contributions of FABE engineering technicians Adam Clark, Barry Nudd and Andy Doklovic.

You can learn more about the sprayer (and see it) in the video above, and also in the entry about the award in the conference program, which follows.

First of its kind in the world

“The team [officially called the Intelligent Sprayer Development and Testing Team] was selected for its development of the Laser-Guided Variable-Rate Intelligent Sprayer for Nursery, Orchard and Grape Applications. The sprayer developed and field tested by the team is the first automatic spraying system of its kind in the world. It can detect the presence of crop canopy, map the canopy architecture, calculate the sectional canopy volume for individual nozzles, and activate individual nozzles to discharge variable spray outputs to match crop architectures and foliage volume in real time. This innovation was nominated based on its uniqueness, its potential impact (cost and time savings to producers, protecting the environment from potential pollution from excessive use of pesticides), and for leading to obtaining significant funding from USDA. It has also received national awards and recognition.

Eliminates excessive waste

“The new spraying system eliminates excessive waste of pesticides when spraying trees or similar plants with conventional air-assisted sprayers. This waste reduction is beneficial to ecosystems and saves growers money. It also saves growers time by requiring fewer spray tank refills to cover the same area. The new spraying system will significantly advance spray technologies and offer an economically and environmentally responsible approach for growers to controlling insects and diseases as well as applying other foliar products.

“The award consists of a plaque for each of the team members, $1,000 for Ozkan and Canas, and $5,000 added to the team’s operating expense account for one year.”

Find details on all the research awards presented at the conference.

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