Development of a low-cost vertical patternator, part II

Project Overview

FNE12-749
Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2012: $6,940.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
R. Martin Keen
Landey Vineyards

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Fruits: grapes

Practices

  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Pest Management: chemical control
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    An agricultural airblast sprayer with improperly positioned or defective nozzles results in spray drift, poor pest control and inaccurate application. It has been estimated that only 55% of a pesticide spray may hit the target. Use of a vertical spray patternator reveals where the spray is deposited and allows the farmer to adjust the sprayer to its maximum efficiency. A patternator helps increase the amount of spray that hits the target plant, thereby increasing efficiency and efficacy. Use of a patternator can reduce spray drift up to 90% and reduce pesticide use up to 20%. This project will expand on the patternators developed in FNE10-689 with other patternator designs and determine which patternator gives results closest to actual spraying in a fruit crop. The patternator design with the most accurate representation of the actual spray material deposited will help farmers be more efficient and economical in their pesticide spraying.

    The three patternators developed in FNE10-689 produced differences in the spray patterns depending on the model tested. Another patternator design, even lower in cost, will be tested and compared with the models previously built. This patternator will require image analysis software for the results to be expressed quantitatively. The required software will be developed as a part of the project. Use of a patternator can reduce costs and increase productivity from reduced pesticide use and better application.

    Results will be presented at a field day, grape grower meetings, in printed materials, through extension and on the Web.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    In the Northeast SARE Farmer Grant FNE10-689, the goal was to develop a patternator that had $100 or less in newly purchased material costs. Patternators were built and then tested for their ability to quantify the spray pattern of an airblast sprayer. A Cornell type patternator was also built to allow comparisons between the various designs. Spray patterns were collected in triplicate from each of the three patternators built for the project. The spray pattern generated with new versus older used nozzles was also compared.

    The two SARE patternators developed for the project generated a different spray pattern than the standard Cornell type patternator developed by Dr. Andrew Landers. A question that could not be answered by the project was which design actually gives a more accurate representation of the true spray pattern generated by an airblast sprayer. This project will attempt to answer that question and in the process also develop an even lower cost patternator.

    Water sensitive papers have been used to visually show the spray that is hitting a surface. These cards are yellow on one side and turn blue where they are exposed to water. Usually they are used by growers for a quick visual qualitative estimate of spray deposition. The cards must be handled with care because they are sensitive to moisture in the air, on the plant and on the hands. Water vapor from the plants can also cause the paper to turn blue. Water proof gloves must be worn when handling water sensitive paper. The cards are also fairly expensive, one 3” by 2” card costs $1.31, and the amount of spray cannot be accurately quantified by a grower. The area of the card that has been exposed to spray can be quantified by researchers using image analysis software and a scanner. Some researchers have used the image analysis software DropletScan, that was developed expressly for pesticide spraying applications. The software is sold by WRK of Oklahoma and WRK of Arkansas and costs $7,200. One program currently used at Cornell is Assess 2.0, an image analysis software designed to easily quantify and measure plant diseases. Although designed for plant diseases it can be utilized for spray applications. The software is sold by the American Phytopathological Society for $450, but can be purchased on Amazon for $434. The USDA Agricultural Research Service in Wooster, Ohio has developed DepositScan, a complex image analysis software for evaluating water sensitive papers that is free to the public. Although the program is free, it is not open source and cannot be modified. DepositScan generates much more data than a farmer would ever need and an additional update is needed to consolidate the data from the program. These costs and/or the complexity of the computer programs make them generally unsuitable for use by farmers. Instead of using water sensitive cards, Cornell researcher Dr. Landers has suggested that growers use high quality photographic paper and a dye in their spray tank to be able to visually assess spray deposition. An exact protocol for this method or a means of interpreting the results has not been established.

    One of the goals of this project will be to develop a low cost patternator utilizing a variety of sensing cards or paper that more closely mimics what is actually happening when grapevines or other fruits are sprayed with an airblast sprayer. Numerous modifications will most likely have to be made during the development of the patternator built for this project. Various high quality photographic papers, water sensitive paper, and other papers will be tested for their ability to accurately visualize spray patterns with a minimum of droplet spread. Most ordinary papers cannot be used because of droplets spreading on the paper due to wicking of the spray material through fibers of the paper. This droplet spread would result in inflated values for the amount of spray coverage.

    Fourteen small sheets of paper, approximately 4” by 6” will be attached to an 8 foot high wood 2 by 4. The sheets will cover the top 7 feet of the 2 by 4, the same vertical distance of the patternators developed in FNE10-689. This will allow data collected in this project to be compared with the patternators developed previously. The sprayer, containing water and a dye, will drive past the paper covered vertical 2 by 4 at the same speed used in our vineyard spraying program. These results will also be compared with water sensitive papers placed on the 2 by 4. Water sensitive papers and other paper will also be tested by placing within the vineyard to compare the patternators with spray deposition within the vines.

    Numerous dyes will be tested to determine the best and most economical one for this particular application. After the paper dries, the percentage of spray coverage will be determined with a scanner and image analysis software developed in this project and the USDA-ARS DepositScan program. The image analysis software developed in this project will be a simple, user friendly, cross platform program with Windows, Linux, and OSX capabilities. It will be an open source program that will be available on the website created for the 2010 Northeast SARE project FNE10-689, http://patternator.com and hopefully on the Northeast SARE website for general use. The image analysis programs will be tested and calibrated by various standard sheets with a known percentage of coverage before any sprayer generated papers are measured.

    An image analysis software program developed by this project will be used to quantify the percentage spray coverage on various types of paper. Commercially available water sensitive paper will be used as the control and the percentage of spray coverage will be compared to various other papers, including high quality photographic paper. The paper with the least amount of droplet spread and compares favorably with the water sensitive paper, will be used for further testing. All tests will be run in quadruplicate and the median value will be utilized. The USDA-ARS program DepositScan will also be utilized to quantify the percentage spray coverage on the various types of paper and will be compared with results from the SARE image analysis program. Statistical analysis will be used to interpret the data generated by the project. Treatment means will be tested for significance at the 1% and 5% level in a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) for independent samples with a Tukey’s HSD test.

    The vertical patterns generated by the paper patternators will be illustrated in graphs, along with the vertical patterns from water sensitive cards and other papers placed within the vines. These vertical patterns will be expressed as a percentage of spray recovery on the water sensitive paper and other papers tested. The spray patterns generated by the paper patternator will also be compared with the spray patterns from the three patternators built for FNE10-689. The vertical patterns generated by all patternators will be compared and illustrated in graphs.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.