Precision Spray Applications

tractor with small sprayer attached to rear. sprayer has LiDAR sensor that detects plants in area

Specialty tree crops such as fruits, nuts, and ornamentals currently rely on regular applications of pesticides due to intense pressure from pests and diseases to produce marketable varieties. Many of the pesticide application technologies used today are based on air-assisted sprayers, also known as air-blast sprayers, which were first developed in the mid 1940s. Air-blast pesticide sprayers are versatile, reliable, and can be modified to fit numerous types of crops, all of which are reasons for their continued popularity. Despite their popularity, air-blast sprayers have long had a reputation for inefficient application characteristics. Losses to the ground of 30-50% of spray and off-target drift from 10-20% of applied volume are not uncommon for air-blast sprayers. Our program is part of a multi-state, multi-agency, collaboration to improve spray application precision and efficiencies in specialty crops to create healthier more effective pest control options. 

The Oregon State University Team

The Intelligent Sprayer Project was brought to Oregon State University by Robin Rosetta who has since retired. Currently our project is led by Jay Pscheidt (Plant Pathology), Lloyd Nackley (Nursery Production), Brent Warneke (Crop Production), Brian Hill (IPM), and Melissa Scherr (Entomology). Recent projects have evaluated an air blast sprayer retrofitted with a laser-guided spray control system (Intelligent Spray System (ISS)). In previous experiments the ISS has been demonstrated to reduce the volume of materials applied by up to 70% with comparable control of insects and plant diseases to conventional sprayers. We design experiments that measure whether or not enough material is being applied to plants to control pests and also quantify off-target material deposition (e.g., drift). The Intelligent sprayer retrofits used for these studies can be changed between Intelligent and conventional mode using the spray control box installed in the tractor, so the same sprayer can be used. To see the results of our recent trials please refer to the "Trial Results" section below. Other resources and background literature can be found in the "Helpful Resources" section below.

Photo Gallery

The Oregon Intelligent Spray Systems team conducts applied research on management of insect and plant disease problems in Oregon specialty crops using the Intelligent Spray System. The current focus of the team is on optimization of spray coverage in nursery liners and hazelnut orchards, as well as management of grape powdery mildew. This gallery has images from events the Oregon ISS team has participated in as well as photos from various trials.

Intelligent Sprayer Photos

The Intelligent Spray System - A Water and Pesticide Saving Tool

Jay Pscheidt is a plant pathologist and Extension researcher who works with the Oregon Wine Research Institute, based at Oregon State University. Part of his research program focuses on evaluating the Intelligent Spray System for use in a Grape Powdery Mildew management program. The research trials have evaluated various sulfur rates in both Intelligent and conventional mode as well as synthetic fungicide materials. Results are in the "Trial Results" section below.

The Intelligent Spray System in a Vineyard

Demonstration of the Intelligent Spray System as it travels through a vineyard. Shown are Intelligent mode, conventional mode, and slow motion intelligent mode. Viewers can see how the sprayer output changes going from conventional mode to intelligent mode. Note how when the sprayer is in Intelligent Mode it applies less pesticide when the canopy is diffuse, and how nozzles shut off when there are gaps in the plant canopy. 

Trial Results

Coverage of Hazelnut Shoot Tips 2019 PDF

Efficacy of an Intelligent Sprayer on Grape Powdery Mildew, 2018 and 2019 PDF

Phenological Spray Coverage Trial on Pinot noir, 2019 PDF


Helpful Resources

Sensor Sprayers for Specialty Crop Production PDF

An PNW extension document outlining different types of sprayers that use sensors to modulate spray output.

Sprayers 101

An extensive resource on both boom and specialty crop spraying that includes topics such as sprayer calibration, spray optimization, drift management and sprayer component info.

Precision Sprayer Reference Repository PDF

A document with citations of various articles relevant to precision spraying.