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Development of Technology for Precision Fruit Spraying to Improve Deposition, Reduce Drift and Assist Traceability


Objectives: 1.Decrease the risk of environmental pollution by reducing drift. 2.Improve deposition within the canopy of fruit trees and grapevines. 3.Develop a precision sprayer which will automatically adjust air and liquid volume according to canopy density 4.Develop a system of monitoring spray use to provide traceability to processors, growers and consumers. <P>Expected outputs - Improvement in deposition. Applying the correct amount of spray to the target will increase efficiency and result in better insect and disease control. Canopy monitoring techniques will reduce waste and therefore improve the budgets of the growers. - A precision sprayer. Precision is required if we are to apply the correct amount to an ever-changing canopy. -Traceability. Society requires more and more information on all the food processes. Processors of foods, e.g. apple juice and grape juice also require detailed pesticide records. An automatic data logging system will provide genuine application records and provide the consumer/processor with confidence in their food. <P>Milestones: Objective 1 Drift reduction - testing at NYSAES - year 1 - field testing with growers Year 2 - extension demos Yrs 2-5 Objective 2 Improving deposition Testing at NYSAES - Years 1 and 2 Field testing - Years 2 and 3 Extension demos - Years 2-5 Objective 3 Develop precision sprayer Testing at NYSAES - Years 1, 2 and 3 Field testing - Years 2, 3 and 5 Extension demos - Years 2- 5 Objective 4 Develop traceability system. Testing at NYSAES - Years 1 and 2 Field testing - Years 2 and 3 Extension demos - Years 2-5

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Non-Technical Summary:<br/>
There are many acres of fruit crops in the North East of the USA, all of them are grown for the quality market, sadly some fruit doesn't reach that standard. The goal of the research proposed herein is to better understand the methods of improving spray deposition by reducing and controlling air volume and liquid volume as the canopy develops throughout the growing season. In particular I am interested in researching the inter-relationship between them and how sprayers may be modified to address the issues. Additionally research projects will be selected for their potential to make significant theoretical and practical advances in pesticide application technology. Traceability: 65% of grape production goes for fruit juice. Fruit juice production in New York is a MAJOR industry and a food scare will devastate an already fragile farming economy. Pesticides are a necessary part of fruit production and when chemicals are not applied properly, managers may be unaware of costly problems until it is too late to correct them. There is no traceability system from farm to processor for fruit, a major concern, particularly if there was to be a food quality scare such as the recent scares with food-borne diseases in vegetables, resulting in illness and death. We need a traceability system for all commodities. I propose to develop a fruit sprayer monitoring system to aid farm management and traceability of pesticide use in vineyards and orchards in New York. We will monitor and record the pesticide flow rate and location using flowmeters and GPS location devices and download them each day onto the office computer. We will record if spray was applied to each row, monitor if rows are missed or double dosed. This will be an aid to the management of sprayers, staff and for tracking pesticide use. Computerized pesticide records will provide data to help with traceability of apples and grapes from the grower to the processor to the bottle or store. If a food scare should develop, then immediate traceability will be available which will assure consumers of quality food from NY fruit growers. This project is very timely, as we must have methods of traceability in place before a pesticide residue scare breaks out in the fruit industry.
According to crop structure the total height of canopy will be divided into five sample areas (from bottom to top) and three layouts (both external and one internal). From every one of the fifteen sampling areas (5 heights x 3 depths) two or three representative leaves will be picked up and stored in a plastic bag. A total of 50 samples of leaves will be harvested prior to the field test in order to determine the leaf area. All those 50 leaves will be weighed and its surface determined using a scanner. The extraction of deposited tracer on leaves will be determined washing leaves into the bags by adding an exact quantity of washing liquid. Plastic bags containing leaves will be well shaken and leaves will remain in contact with the washing liquid for 30 minutes. After that a sample of this liquid will be collected and placed in a crystal tube. Concentration of tracer will be determined by using light absorption in a laboratory. Results will be expressed in terms of deposition by leaf surface (micrograms/cm2). Leaf surface of each sample will be calculated by weighting samples and using the previously obtained relation between weight and surface. Trials will be conducted, at three different crop stages in coincidence with flowering, pea size and version stages, and in at least two different varieties, both representatives of every area of work. A flow meter /data logging system will provide growers with accurate data on their application rate and location. GPS will provide location and Google maps provide a map for overlaying the data. Application information will be used to assist with traceability of product use, and application volumes. An automated, computer based system will eliminate the traditional manual data entry of today. In the next two growing seasons we will develop a canopy sensing system using infra-red and, or ultrasonics to measure canopy density. The sensor information will then be used adjust air volume (using the air louvre) and liquid volume (using banks of air-assisted nozzles) according to the canopy dimensions. We will conduct comparative field trials, using blocks of trees/vines with co-operating growers. Pesticides will be applied to blocks, based on the farmers own traditional methods, and other blocks will be treated using the precision sprayer to vary application rate and airflow. Both treatments will be compared in terms of biological efficacy (by measuring the level of control of disease and insects) and in terms of quality of applications by determining aspects as coverage on leaves, uniformity of distribution, losses on soil and capacity of penetration. Deposition on crop and losses on soil will be measured by adding into the tank a determined quantity of fluorescent tracer, Tartrazine. Concentration of tracer in the tank before and after spraying will be measured taking samples directly from the tank. Quality of applications will be measured by picking leaves from the top, middle and bottom part of the canopy and also at the inner and outer parts.
2011/10 TO 2012/09<br/>
OUTPUTS: This project was approved on August 20 2012. At the time of writing, December 4, we have had approx. 3 months to conduct our research. On September 1, Dr Jordi Llorens Calveras joined my research group. Dr Llorens Calveras has joined us from the University Polytechnica Catalonia in Spain where his research has been based upon the use of electronic sensors for precision spraying. In fulfilling the objective 3 stated in the proposal, Development of a precision sprayer which will automatically adjust both air and liquid volume according to crop canopy. He created a list of electronic items which have been purchased. We are using a John Beam tower orchard sprayer for adjusting liquid flow. We are using a Berthoud S600 axial fan vineyard sprayer for the adjustable air flow. Both sprayers will use a single sensing system which will be transferred between the sprayers. Sensor items, circuit boards, data loggers, wireless transmitters and all wiring have been assembled in the past three months. We have use of a wet lab at Cornell and have just started the lab development phase. Objectives 1, 2, and 4 will follow as we progress to field trials in Spring 2013. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.
IMPACT: At this early stage of 3 months into a project we have no outcomes to show other than the very early stages of a prototype sprayer.We are certainly on time with our projection to be conducting field trials in Spring 2013.

Landers, Andrew J
New York Agricultural Experiment Station
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