Date of this Version
Applied Engineering in Agriculture Vol. 28(5): 725-733
Modern spray rate controllers along with technologies such as automatic section control (ASC) provide benefits such as overlap reduction on agricultural sprayers. However, product (liquid) dynamics within the boom plumbing affect off-rate errors and application uniformity during rate changes and ASC actuation. Therefore, this study was conducted to compare nozzle flow stability and uniformity across the boom when using two different boom shut-off valves (2-way and metered 3-way) on an 18.3-m sprayer boom. Pressure transducers were mounted at 1) the boom manifold, 2) randomly at 12 nozzle bodies across the spray boom, and 3) upstream and downstream of the flow regulating valve. Effective system flow rate was measured using two flow meter(s), one located upstream of the boom control valves (2-way or metered 3-way) and another mounted to measure the tank return flow for the metered 3-way boom valve. Measured nozzle pressure was converted to nozzle flow using the manufacturer’s pressure-flow data. Results indicated that the 2-way boom versus metered 3-way valve response was significantly different. Significant differences in damping ratios were found when exiting (under-damped) and reentering (over-damped) of spray zones. For the metered 3-way boom valve configuration, nozzle flow settled faster (0.1 to 4.2 s) virtually eliminating off-rate errors whereas the 2-way boom valve configuration took up to 34.3 s to settle with off-rate errors ranging from 3.3% to 11.5%. The delayed nozzle flow settling times were associated with pressure settling (0.7 to 31.4 s) downstream of the regulating valve for the 2-way configuration. Ground speed and point row angle impacted nozzle flow settling times and off-rate errors. The increase in ground speed and point row angle increased nozzle flow settling time for the 2-way valve setup, except that acceleration decreased settling times when exiting spray zones. The delayed response contributed to off-rate time which decreased as the sprayer accelerated and point row angle decreased for both the 2-way (1.7 to 19.3 s) and metered 3-way (2.1 to 4.4 s) boom shut-off valve setups.