High-tunnel bed and trellised crops sprayer

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2014: $14,906.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Andrew Fellenz
Fellenz Family Farm

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: beets, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), tomatoes, turnips


  • Pest Management: botanical pesticides, chemical control, integrated pest management, precision herbicide use
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    The Fellenz Family Farm is a certified organic farm growing vegetables, fruit, herbs and transplants. We grow tomatoes, cucurbits, eggplant, peppers, many varieties of greens and some root crops in both high tunnels and in the field. For spray application of crop protectants or amendments in the high tunnels we use a caddy sprayer or a Solo backpack sprayer. Both sprayers are equipped with hand wands designed for point application. The sprayers are time consuming to use, often requiring more than one hour to spray a trellised crop in a 30X96 tunnel and it is difficult to ensure uniform application at label rates.

    We will construct a modular spray unit which can be fitted with a horizontal boom for overhead application of materials on low crops and a vertical boom, possibly with air assist, for trellised and staked crops. The modular boom sprayer will reduce the amount of time required to spray in a high tunnel, improve spraying efficacy (ensuring better coverage) and spraying precision (more uniform application at label rates). The project will run for two seasons to allow enough time for multiple trials of different boom/tip configurations at different growth stages of the plants.

    The sprayer has the potential to decrease labor costs by reducing the amount of time required to spray a tunnel. It may also enable improvement in crop quality and/or saleable product through better coverage. Reduction in labor costs and improvement in yields will translate into increased farm profitability. It will also improve quality of life by eliminating many of the negatives associated with spraying in high tunnels.

    Andrew Landers, from Cornell, will provide technical support for sprayer design and lab analysis to assess the effectiveness of the different sprayer designs. Judson Reid, Cornell Cooperative Extension, will assist with project outreach including a Field Day and Cornell Vegetable Program Winter Meetings. I will do cost analysis of the various spraying methods.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Determine how to improve spraying efficiency and efficacy in a high tunnel. We will design, fabricate and test a high tunnel sprayer and determine whether it can provide better coverage and require less time to go through the high tunnel than existing backpack or caddy sprayers. We will evaluate the efficacy and efficiency of the new sprayer compared to Caddy and/or Backpack style sprayers for low crops grown in beds, medium height staked crops and tall (>6’) trellised crops. Different nozzles will be trialed and air assist may be evaluated, if the initial results suggest it would be helpful.

    Performance Targets
    I will be examining two variables – the time required to spray and spraying effectiveness. We will record baseline times to spray a high tunnel utilizing the caddy sprayer and then record the time required, over several iterations, to spray with the project sprayer in the three different spray environments – low growing beds of salad and cooking greens, staked peppers and/or eggplant and trellised tomatoes or cucumbers. Andrew Landers will arrange for analysis of sprayer effectiveness by placing cards in various locations in the tunnel and performing a lab analysis to determine how well the cards were sprayed.

    We will develop and test several boom/nozzle combinations. Based on the test results we will be able to determine which method works best and the associated application expense. We plan to share both the test results and equipment specifications through our outreach program. Farmers will be able to use our experience and test data to make better decisions on how to spray in their tunnels and arrange for fabrication of appropriate sprayers.

    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.