Date of this Version
Applied Engineering in Agriculture Vol. 33(5): 641-653.
Pesticide application is an integral part of crop production, and ground-based agricultural boom sprayers are used extensively to apply pesticides to the crop canopy or soil surface across millions of acres in the United States. Efficient application is necessary to minimize costs and limit adverse environmental impacts. The goals of this study were to provide quantified measurements on the effects of nozzle setup errors on spray pattern uniformity and evaluate how laboratory patternator-based simulations would compare to measurements on a full spray boom. More specific objectives were to determine the effects of factors such as nozzle lateral angle, nozzle spacing, nozzle replacement, and nozzle pitch angle on spray pattern distribution and evaluate a simulation approach to predict the effects of single nozzle boom setup errors on full boom system pattern uniformity. Laboratory and sprayer-based tests were devised to quantify the impact of nozzle setup and operational errors on spray pattern uniformity, boom pressure, and nozzle flow rates. Results indicated that small variations in boom setup or nozzle operation (i.e., pressure or flow) can cause significant errors in spray nozzle distribution which may not be completely detectable by measuring spray pattern alone. Simulations using laboratory data from setup or operational errors reflected similar changes (differences less than 2.6%) in spray pattern CV as full boom data with similar setup errors. These findings were significant in that it may be possible to model errors within full boom spray distributions based on smaller laboratory-collected datasets.