Precision Agriculture

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 226–243 | Cite as

Spray and economics assessment of a UAV-based ultra-low-volume application in olive and citrus orchards

  • Jorge Martinez-Guanter
  • Pablo Agüera
  • Juan Agüera
  • Manuel Pérez-RuizEmail author


Automation is a new frontier in specialty agriculture equipment. Specifically, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), machine vision and robotics will increasingly appear in sustainable agricultural systems. The use of small UAVs retrofitted with spraying systems allows precision aerial applications on small targets. These precision applications can result in significant cost savings and reductions in risk to operators during treatments. This paper presents a novel and practical design and development of a small application system capable of being mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle for agrochemical spraying tasks and an analysis of the quality of the application and economic costs in olive and citrus orchards compared with those of a conventional treatment. Once the equipment had been developed, field trials in super-high-density olive and citrus orchards were undertaken to evaluate the spray deposition efficiency. For comparison with a conventional hydro-pneumatic sprayer, the field tests took into account parameters such as the applied volume rate, spray drift, application time and equipment costs and depreciation. The results obtained indicate that there was a 7 €/ha difference in the application costs between the aerial vehicle and conventional equipment. It is hoped that the conclusions of this work will serve as the basis for a debate about the existing legislation governing this type of aerial work, which can be beneficial in specific cases and should be carried out in a safe and legal manner.


Agrochemical application UAV Sprayer Economic analysis 



The authors would like to thank DRONSAP, the UAV division of AGROSAP, for their participation in the design of the equipment and in the trials. We would also like to thank the “World Olive Germplasm Bank” of the University of Cordoba for allowing us to use its facilities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge Martinez-Guanter
    • 1
  • Pablo Agüera
    • 2
  • Juan Agüera
    • 3
  • Manuel Pérez-Ruiz
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Universidad de Sevilla. Área de Ingeniería Agroforestal Dpto. de Ingeniería Aeroespacial y Mecánica de FluidosSevilleSpain
  2. 2.Dronsap, a Division of AgrosapSevilleSpain
  3. 3.Dept. of Rural EngineeringUniversity of CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  4. 4.SevilleSpain

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