Orchard Sprayer Technology Field Day

An orchard sprayer technology field day is scheduled for Thursday, August 18 at Moreland Fruit Farm, located at 1558 West Moreland Rd., Wooster OH (44691).  The field day will begin with registration at 3:00 pm and conclude by 7:30 pm.   The field day will feature sprayer demonstrations and will provide a glimpse of the future; introducing participants to the “Intelligent Sprayer” technology.

           Fruit and nursery growers rely on pesticides to protect their crops against insects and diseases.   Current sprayers used by the growers apply pesticides at a constant rate regardless of large variations in canopy size, leaf density, plant spacing, and gaps within target trees.  Researchers of USDA’s Application Technology Research Unit located at the OARDC Wooster campus and at The Ohio State University Columbus campus designed a laser-guided sprayer which recognizes those variations and immediately stops spraying when there are no trees, and other times continues spraying along with changing the application rate in real time based on variations in canopy size (height, width, depth) and leaf density. This intelligent sprayer is the only one of its kind in the world that has proven to provide equal pest control to that achieved from conventional sprayers while operating at a significantly lower spray volume.  Trials with the intelligent sprayer have shown reductions in pesticide use of 47-70% compared to conventional orchard sprayers and annual chemical savings of $140 to $280 per acre.

           Field day participants will have the opportunity to see comparisons of conventional, current technology orchard sprayers and intelligent sprayer technology operated side by side.  There will be discussions and demonstrations of how any type of sprayer can be used more effectively and efficiently to get the best results possible.  Heping Zhu, USDA-ARS, lead scientist of the intelligent sprayer team and Erdal Ozkan, OSU Extension Sprayer Technology Specialist will be on hand to lead the sprayer demonstrations, explain the intelligent sprayer technology, show participants how to adjust sprayers for more efficient and effective use, lead discussions and answer questions.  Fred and Steve Finney of Moreland Fruit Farm who are field testing the intelligent sprayer will be on hand to talk about on-farm results and savings noted compared to their conventional orchard sprayer.  Participants will have the opportunity to visit with and hear from event sponsors exhibiting and displaying orchard sprayers, equipment and supplies.

Registration: includes handout materials, refreshments, and a light supper for only $5.00 per person, pre-register by Thursday August 11

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