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Using 3-D Simulation to Evaluate Spinner-disc Spreader Performance for Variable-Rate Application of Poultry Litter

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1009265.(doi:10.13031/2013.36311)
Authors:   Jonathan B Hall, John P Fulton, Timothy P McDonald, Wesley C Zech, Larry G Crowley, Oladiran O Fasina
Keywords:   Precision agriculture, Variable-rate technology, 3-D computer simulation, DEM, Fertilizer, Granular, Uniformity, Distribution, Application

The use of poultry litter as an organic fertilizer on cropland has increased in recent years due to rising costs of inorganic fertilizers. Due to excessive phosphorous levels, the use of guidance, variable-rate technology (VRT), and other precision agriculture technologies has increased in an attempt to reduce over-application and application in undesired areas. Therefore, the focus of this study was to evaluate the potential of EDEM 3-D simulation software for modeling poultry litter application. EDEM is based on the discrete element method (DEM), which takes into account particle physics during the conveyance and distribution of the litter. This paper discusses the setup of a preliminary simulation model to observe material flow and interactions with spinner-disc spreader components. The needed material parameters and spreader components, including conveyance and distribution systems, will be described in order to model litter application. Initial examination of the simulation model highlights observations of mass distribution and particle concentration which are similar to common trends observed and measured during empirical testing. It is hopeful that DEM modeling will prove to be a useful tool in reducing the lengthy design time for equipment manufacturers and the burden on farmers to properly manage spinner-disc spreaders while maintaining sound environmental stewardship at the farm level.

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