Recently our own Brent Warneke wrote another great article for Sprayers 101 covering the Intelligent Sprayer System – check it out here: https://sprayers101.com/airblast-sensors/
Want a preview? Here’s a synopsis:
Air-blast sprayers are versatile, reliable, and can be modified to fit numerous types of crops, all of which are reasons for their continued popularity. Yet despite their popularity, air-blast sprayers have long had a reputation for inefficient application characteristics. Sensor controlled spray systems reduce labor costs and pesticide waste. Recently, they are receiving renewed interest as their reliability has improved and more options have become available. There are two main types of sensor sprayers:
+ On/off sensor sprayers
+ Crop adapting sprayers
Infrared sensors: The inability to resolve characteristics of plant structure makes IR sensors suited to less complex applications such as triggering
the sprayer on and off at a plant. Additionally, these systems can be used for herbicide sprayers where the sensors are aimed at the trunks of trees/vines and turn off the sprayer as they pass the trunk or to target it for the purpose of sucker sprays.
Ultrasonic sensors: using multiple sensors, it’s possible to collect canopy volume data with similar accuracy to taking manual measurements. These are typically used on canopy sprayers with around 3 sensors per side of the sprayer.
Laser sensors (LiDAR): Provides the most accurate measurements of plant structure (mm resolution). Only one sensor needed for accurate measurement.
Plant fluorescence sensors: These have a spatial resolution between ultrasonic sensors and LiDAR sensors. Most commonly used on “weed-seeing” herbicide sprayers but also on canopy sprayers. All sensor sprayers must have a speed sensor to synch the sprayer ground speed to the sensor system.
Spraying with sensor sprayers
Insect pest and disease control with sensor controlled sprayers has
been widely shown to be similar to that of standard sprayers. Control can be achieved on those crops with spray volume savings from 20-70% depending on the sensor system used and crop spray volume savings are higher in crops with more variability labor savings, less pesticide release into the environment, tractor wear, and driver fatigue are also reduced as the sprayer is in operation for less time.
Sensor sprayers can result in 20% to over 90% less spray drift. Autonomous sensor sprayers companies are currently developing and selling autonomous sprayer units that drive themselves and can be integrated with sensors.