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Variable rate spraying application on cotton using an electronic flow controller

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Vegetation indices (VI) obtained by optical sensors have a positive correlation with various attributes of cotton plant growth. This work is aimed at evaluating the variable rate application of plant growth regulator (PGR) and fruit ripener on zones defined by VI and penological measurements using a sprayer equipped with a relatively low cost electronic flow controller on the height, percentage of open fruits, yield and net income. The work was done in a 92 ha field during crop seasons 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, and in a 202 ha field, during the crop season 2014/2015. Two spray applications were made using variable rate technology (VRT) of the PGR and one fruit ripener, in both harvest seasons, according to three VI classes formed by a previous mapping. The uniformity of the cotton height and opened fruits contribute to a similar yield across zones. Uniform plant height facilitates cotton harvest. The ripener helps to ensure all the cotton is ready to be harvested at the same time. In this trial, use of VRT technique to manage the PGR and fruit ripener application increased net income by US$152.28 ha−1, but this estimate is based on yields that are not statistically significantly different from the control. This research confirms that PGR and fruit ripener can be sufficiently managed with an electronic flow controller to result in more uniform cotton plant height and yields within fields, but it leaves open the question of whether VRT PGR is profitable even with the lower cost electronic flow controller.

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Special thanks to the Foundation to Support the Development of Education, Science, and Technology of the State of Mato Grosso do Sul (Fundect), CNPq and to Wink and Campo Bom Farms in supporting this work.

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Correspondence to F. H. R. Baio.

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Baio, F.H.R., Neves, D.C., Souza, H.B. et al. Variable rate spraying application on cotton using an electronic flow controller. Precision Agric 19, 912–928 (2018).

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