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EARI10-033: Prototype Tractor Mounted Variable Rate Sprayer for Real-Time Spot Application of Agrochemicals in Wild Blueberry Fields

Applicant: Nova Scotia Agricultural College

Project Lead: Dr. Qamar Zaman

Project Year(s): 2010 -2013      Status: Complete

Funding Source: Canada/New Brunswick Growing Forward (Non-Business Risk Management Programs)

Funding Program: Enabling Agricultural Research and Innovation

Objective: The primary objective of the proposed research project is to develop a tractor-mounted pre-commercial prototype real-time VR sprayer using cost-effective ultrasonic sensors/digital color cameras and fast computerized variable rate controller to detect weeds, bare spots and blueberry plants to spray herbicides in a specific section where the weeds have been detected, and fungicide/insecticide where the plants have been detected. The specific objectives of this proposed research are to: (i) calibrate sensors to detect weeds at different heights; (ii) evaluate performance of digital camera and custom image processing software to detect weeds, bare spots and blueberry plants; iii) conduct performance test in the laboratory to calibrate the controller for flow rate and total applied volume; (iv) calibrate computerized VR controller for look ahead time delay technique in firmware to control the exact release of herbicide, fungicide and insecticide from the applicator to correct place (weeds or plants); and (v) evaluate the performance of VR sprayer components (controller, sensors, software, solenoid valves, flow valve and flow meter) at small scale in wild blueberry fields; and (vi) train highly qualified personnel (HQP’s: post-doctoral fellow, PhD and M.Sc. students), producers and industry representatives.

Deliverables: A tractor-mounted real-time VR sprayer. Training of qualified personnel. The ability to transfer the technology for commercial use quickly and efficiently. The delivery of peer reviewed scientific publications and producer fact sheets associated with site-specific applications of agrochemicals, environmental stewardship, food safety and renewal and risk management.

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