Conference Paper

OPTIMA project: Development of a smart sprayer for bed-grown carrots

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Within the H2020-project OPTIMA the goal is to develop a smart sprayer for carrots, based on the existing CAFFINI Prestige air-assisted boom sprayer. Among others, these developments include the use of most optimal nozzle types and configurations, and of variable nozzle spacing and height for spraying bed grown crops of different target zone widths depending on the growth stage. The preliminary results indicate that four nozzle configurations XR8004/XR8004/XR8004/XR8004, AIUB8504/AI11004/AI11004 AIUB8504, AI8004/AI8004/AI8004/AI8004, and XR8002/XR8002/XR8002/XR8002 are appropriate for spraying different target zone widths (ranging from 1.2 to 2.2 m) with high uniformity (CV < 12%) and minimal losses out of the target zone (< 17%), when applied at the most appropriate nozzle height/spacing. Within each test, nozzle height and spacing were fixed and kept equal, as this is more practical for farmers in real field conditions, and varied from 0.35 to 0.65 m at incremental steps of 0.05 m.

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The characteristics of agricultural sprays belong to the most critical factors affecting spray drift, deposition on plants, spray coverage and biological efficacy. Hence, within the framework of a research project about agricultural spray drift, the effect of nozzle type, size and pressure on spray droplet characteristics was investigated. The objective of this study was to develop a test rig and protocol for the characterisation of spray nozzles using a phase doppler particle analyser (PDPA). This test rig was able to measure droplet sizes and velocities based on light-scattering principles. It was composed of a climate room, a spray unit, a three-dimensional automated positioning system and an Aerometrics PDPA one-dimensional system. The droplet size and velocity characteristics of different nozzle–pressure combinations was measured and compared with the results obtained by other researchers using different measuring techniques and procedures.In total, 32 nozzle–pressure combinations were tested and classified based on droplet size spectra and the British Crop Protection Council (BCPC) classification scheme. The test results clearly show the effect of the nozzle type, size and pressure on the droplet size and velocity spectra. Comparison with the results from other researches confirms the need for reference nozzles to classify sprays because of the considerable variation of absolute results depending on settings and type of measuring equipment.