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Development and Performance Testing of a Light Source System on a Smart Sprayer for Spot-Application of Agrochemical in Wild Blueberry Fields

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

Citation:  Paper number  131594025,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Travis Esau, Qamar Zaman, Dominic Groulx, Young Chang, Arnold Schumann, Peter Havard, Aitazaz Farooque
Keywords:   light source illumination digital color cameras GPS weed detection real-time variable rate controller

Abstract. Wild blueberry producers occasionally are required to apply agrochemicals during the early morning, evening or after dark with low wind conditions. The objective of this study was to develop an artificial light source system that could be added to a smart sprayer to allow cameras to detect target areas in the field with low ambient light conditions. The design requirements were a rugged construction that gave an even light distribution under an entire 12.2 m machine vision sensor boom. Polystyrene diffuser sheets were used to eliminate the hot spots created by the lights. A lux light meter was used to determine the light intensity at 0.3 m spacing on the ground under the camera boom with zero ambient light. A field test was completed in a wild blueberry field in central Nova Scotia, Canada to test the developed light source system with low natural light conditions. A real-time kinematics-global positioning system was used to map the boundary of the test track, selected bare soil areas, weed areas and wild blueberry plant areas in the field. The smart sprayer and light source system was driven across the test track several times using different combinations of camera and image processing settings to determine the optimum values for use with the developed light source. Spray percent area coverage on water sensitive papers placed in bare soil and blueberry patches were 22.34% and 25.79% lower than in weed patches, respectively. Spray savings of 65% was obtained using the smart sprayer for spot-application on weeds.

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