During the 2011 and 2012, we evaluated a variable-rate hydraulic sprayer for field Research on two intelligent, or precision, sprayers is being conducted in nurseries by a multi-state team from the USDA/ARS Application Technology Research Unit in Ohio, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Tennessee. The goal of this research is to develop efficient and affordable sprayers that use technology to respond to crop size and presence. The sprayer then uses that information to vary the flow of pesticides from nozzles during applications. By spraying only the targeted plants, the sprayers have potential to reduce the volume of pesticides used while providing comparable control of the pests. This should decrease spray lost on the soil or by drift and also has potential for a significant reduction in operating costs,efficacy. During 2013 and 2014, we are evaluating a variable-rate, air-assist sprayer for field efficacy. The air-assist sprayer uses a more sensitive laser sensor and has the advantage of detecting canopy density as well as presence.
More information about that work is described in a Digger article, Taking Aim at Pests.