Farm Mechanization

Use Smart Sprayer to help cut pesticide use in Orchards

A team of researchers from various well-known institutions have invented an ultrasonic sensor-based automatic spraying system that assures to reduce the use of pesticides in orchards.

Sprayer that has already been tested in a pomegranate orchard research farm in Rahuri, Maharashtra, can be mounted on a tractor. It then works by sending out and getting ultrasonic sound signals. As the tractor moves all around the orchard, the sprayer gets activated whenever it crosses a plant canopy and it remains still when it crosses an open space.

In findings published in the Current Science journal, investigators have reported that the sprayer was capable of saving as much as 26 percent in the use of insecticides. They also attained an efficiency level of 95 percent in averting fruits infection.

Now talking in detail, the sprayer consists of:

1. Ultrasonic sensors
2. A microcontroller board
3. Solenoid valves
4. One-way valves
5. A fixed displacement pump
6. A pressure gauge
7. A relief valve
8. A storage tank of 200 liters
9. A 12 V battery

Orchard farmers generally use manual spraying or continuous spraying, which have severe flaws. Like, in manual spraying, the farmer has to carry sprayer with himself, which can be dangerous to health. And in continuous spraying method, the pesticide is sprayed constantly, which leads to wastage of more than half of the chemicals being sprayed. On the other hand, the sensor-based sprayer selectively sprays the pesticide only on plants.

Brajesh Nare, member of the research team who also works with ICAR-Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla said, “We expect our technology to replace both these conventional spraying operations and help save farmers’ health and resources”.

The research team also included V.K. Tewari from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur; Satyaprakash Kumar from Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Bhopal and Abhilash Kumar Chandel from Washington State University, US.

To sum up, proper and efficient use of pesticides on plant canopies in orchards is a big challenge due to the complex structure of plants and variations in their spacing. While spraying, a major part of pesticide misses the target i.e. leaves and fruits and penetrates into the environment through air and soil, causing environmental degradation.



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