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 1950s. 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% 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 to create healthier more effective pest control options. 

At Oregon State University our project is led by Robin Rosetta (Nursery IPM), Jay Pscheidt (Plant Pathology), Lloyd Nackley (Nursery Production), Brent Warneke (Crop Production), and Brian Hill (IPM). Recent projects have investigated application comparisons between a USDA-designed laser guided air-assisted spray system and a conventional air-assisted spray system. The laser-guided sprayer can 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).