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    Air-blast sprayers are routinely used to apply pesticides in commercial peach orchards, with growers using both conventional air-blast and ultrasonic sensor-driven models. Even with advanced spray technologies, there are still concerns with the amount of chemicals used and lost to drift. Our study evaluated a laser sensor-based variable-rate sprayer system in three experimental peach orchards for pest and brown rot disease control, spray volume output, spray coverage, and spray drift. A single 378-liter air-blast sprayer was used for both the conventional air-blast and the Intelligent Sprayer (iSprayer) treatments. Treatments were started at the phenological stage of bloom and continued through final swell. The iSprayer treatment was as effective in controlling pests and brown rot disease as the conventional air-blast treatment. Compared with the conventional air-blast treatment, the iSprayer treatment reduced the spray volume (liters/hectare) in cultivar PF23 by 71% at bloom, 62% at pit hardening, and 55% at final swell. For Juneprince, the spray volume reduction was 50% at bloom, 40% at pit hardening, and 13% at final swell. Spray drift was significantly (P < 0.05) reduced only at bloom in the iSprayer treatment. Spray coverage was increased by 50.13 and 26.67% in the iSprayer treatment at bloom and pit hardening, respectively, but not at final swell. Our results show that the iSprayer maintained pest and disease control efficacy in peach orchards while reducing spray volume and drift compared with the conventional air-blast treatment.

    Citation

    Harriet Boatwright, Heping Zhu, Adam Clark, Guido Schnabel. Evaluation of the Intelligent Sprayer System in Peach Production. Plant disease. 2020 Dec;104(12):3207-3212

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    PMID: 33026954

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