Spray and economics assessment of a UAV-based ultra-low-volume application in olive and citrus orchards
- 258 Downloads
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.
KeywordsAgrochemical 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.
- Bals, E. J. (1970). The principles of and new developments in ultra-low volume spraying. In Proceedings of the fifth British insecticide and fungicide conference (Vol. 1, pp. 189–193). Alton, UK: British Crop Protection Council.Google Scholar
- Berni, J. A. J., Zarco-Tejada, P. J., Suárez, L., González-Dugo, V., & Fereres, E. (2009). Remote sensing of vegetation from UAV platforms using lightweight multispectral and thermal imaging sensors. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences,38(6), 6.Google Scholar
- Boto, J. A., Pastrana, P., & Suárez de Cepeda, M. (2004). Consumos energéticos en las operaciones agrícolas en España (Energy Consumption in Agricultural Operations in Spain). Madrid, Spain: Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.Google Scholar
- Bradski, G. (2000). The opencv library. Dr Dobb’s Journal of Software Tools,25, 120–125.Google Scholar
- Giles, D., & Billing, R. (2015). Deployment and performance of a UAV for crop spraying. Chemical Engineering Transactions,44, 307–312.Google Scholar
- Limnaios, G. (2014). Current usage of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and future challenges: A mission oriented simulator for UAS as a tool for design and performance evaluation. Journals of Computation and Modelling,4(1), 167–188.Google Scholar
- Mount, G.A. (1985). Ultra Low Volume Application of Insecticides for Vector Control. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organisation, WHO/VBC/85.919Google Scholar
- OJEC. (2009). Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides (Text with EEA relevance)Google Scholar
- Sheng, W., Yubin, L., Jiantado, Z., Shenghua, L., Haiyan, Z., & Hang, H. (2016). Analysis and experiment on atomization characteristics of ultra-low-volume swirl nozzle for agricultural unmanned aviation vehicle. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering,32(20), 85–93.Google Scholar
- R Core Team (2013). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/.
- Wang, Z., Lan, Y., Hoffmann, W.C., Wang, Y., & Zheng, Y. (2013). Low altitude and multiple helicopter formation in precision agriculture. Paper no 131618681, St Joseph, MI, USA: ASABE.Google Scholar
- Wired Magazine (2015) Re-Planting a Forest, One Drone at a Time. Retrieved August, 2018, from https://www.wired.com/brandlab/2015/07/re-planting-forest-one-drone-time/
- Zhang, P., Deng, L., Lyu, Q., He, S. L., Yi, S. L., Liu, Y. D., et al. (2016). Effects of citrus tree-shape and spraying height of small unmanned aerial vehicle on droplet distribution. International Journal of Agricultural & Biological Engineering,9(4), 45–52.Google Scholar
- Ru Y., Zhou, H., Fan, Q., & Wu, X. (2011). Design and investigation of ultra-low volume centrifugal spraying system on aerial plant protection. Paper No. 11-10663, St Joseph, MI, USA: ASABE.Google Scholar