Date of this Version
UCARE Poster Presentation, Fall 2016, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Pesticide application in agricultural fields affects a little over a million acres each year (USDA 2012). Current spray application equipment can automatically adjust nozzle flow rates in reaction to speed changes to maintain consistent application rates across the field. Uniform distribution of pesticides from the spray boom is critical to ensure proper crop care while minimizing negative environmental effects. Boom pressure and height are two primary factors that affect proper spray uniformity; however information on the combined effects of these factors are limited. The goal of this study was to provide end users with quantified data regarding the effects of combined nozzle pressure and height variability on spray uniformity for three common spray nozzles. Specific objectives of this project were to 1) determine a suitable operating envelope (i.e., nozzle pressure and height) to meet current performance standards for the nozzles tests, 2) determine errors between theoretical spray distributions (from nozzle manufacturer flow and spacing data) to laboratory patternator data collected at different nozzle pressures, and 3) compare nozzle distribution errors (theoretical versus patternator data) with coefficient of variation (CV), a current spray uniformity performance metric. A laboratory patternator was used to collect nozzle distribution in 25 mm increments across the spray pattern while varying height and pressure for the spray nozzles tested. The operating envelope for different combinations of pressure and height was considered acceptable if the CV values were less than 10%. CV values were compared to root mean squared error (RMSE) for the AIXR 11003 nozzles operated at a height of 51 cm and four operating pressures to evaluate potential differences when accuracy is considered (i.e., RMSE). In some configurations the data exceeded 10% CV resulting in a more constricted operating envelope for each individual nozzle type. The CV values show more variance versus RMSE values. For the AIXR11003, as pressure increased the RMSE decreased in value, meaning the experimental pattern became closer to the ideal pattern as pressure increased. The CV values decreased as pressure increased until a threshold is reached; CV values focus on precision but not accuracy, showing the spray pattern was consistent but not necessarily accurate, indicating the CV disregards the theoretical values and does not indicate error in the values. Thus accuracy of spray pattern distribution may not be considered in the manufacturer’s nozzle report.