Estimating off-rate pesticide application errors resulting from agricultural sprayer turning movements
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- Luck, J.D., Pitla, S.K., Zandonadi, R.S. et al. Precision Agric (2011) 12: 534. doi:10.1007/s11119-010-9199-9
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Pesticide application is an essential practice on many U.S. crop farms. Off-rate pesticide application errors may result from velocity differential across the spray boom while turning, pressure fluctuations across the spray boom, or changes in boom-to-canopy height due to undulating terrain. The sprayer path co-ordinates and the status (on or off) of each boom control section were recorded using the sprayer control console which provided map-based automatic boom section control. These data were collected for ten fields of varying shapes and sizes located in central Kentucky. In order to estimate potential errors resulting from sprayer turning movements, a method was developed to compare the differences in application areas between spray boom control sections. The area covered by the center boom control section was considered the “target rate area” and the difference in these areas and the areas covered by remaining control sections were compared to estimate application rate errors. The results of this analysis conducted with sprayer application files collected from ten fields, many containing impassable grassed waterways, indicated that a substantial portion of the fields (6.5–23.8%) could have received application in error by more than ±10% of the target rate. Off-rate application errors exceeding ±10% of the target rate for the study fields tended to increase as the average turning angles increased. The implication of this is that producers may be unintentionally applying at off-label rates in fields of varying shapes and sizes where turning movements are required.