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Economic Analysis for Smart Sprayer Application in Wild Blueberry Fields

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

Citation:  2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting  152189076.(doi:10.13031/aim.20152189076)
Authors:   Travis Esau, Qamar Zaman, Dominic Groulx, Kenny Corscadden, Young Chang, Arnold Schumann, Peter Havard
Keywords:   Image processing, digital color camera, RTK GPS, weed detection, real-time, potential savings.

Abstract. The wild blueberry industry can spend as much as $868 CAD per ha per year on the application of agrochemicals and with some 93,000 ha in production in North America, this equates to $80 million CAD per year. A pressing need to reduce input costs has resulted in the development of a smart sprayer for spot-application of agrochemicals in wild blueberry fields. A commercial boom sprayer (1135 L storage tank) and a 13.7 m sprayer boom was modified and retrofitted to control each nozzle individually. The principle components of the smart sprayer were nine micro eye digital color cameras mounted on the sprayer boom 0.15 m in front of the sprayer nozzles, custom controller, custom developed image processing software featuring a touch screen interface, Midtech legacy 6000 flow controller and a ruggedized computer.

The smart sprayer presents significant advantage from both an environmental and economic perspective. This paper presents the economic analysis which was conducted to determine the potential savings for spot-applications using the sprayer. The cost analysis compares the smart sprayer with other commercially available sprayer technologies and includes, base sprayer, additional technology, training, usage, repair and maintenance. The cost of additional technology has been analyzed based on savings from agrochemical usage, fresh water, tractor fuel and operator time. The three boom sprayers used in this study had agrochemical input costs ranging from $1139 ha-1 to $2110 ha-1 over a two year production cycle of a typical wild blueberry field.

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