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Measurement of Pesticide Drift from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Application to a Vineyard

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

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 61(5): 1539-1546. (doi: 10.13031/trans.12672) @2018
Authors:   Colin R. Brown, Durham K. Giles
Keywords:   Aerial application, AGDISP, Pesticide deposition, Pesticide drift, Remotely piloted aircraft, UAV, Unmanned aerial vehicle, Vineyard.

Abstract. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now being used to perform commercial pesticide applications in California, but little information is available regarding the amount of pesticide drift resulting from these applications. The physical dimensions and operating speed of UAVs differ substantially from those of manned aircraft and fall outside the validated range of spray dispersion models. This study measured spray drift from a 0.84 ha aerial pesticide application of imidacloprid performed with a Yamaha R-Max II UAV over a Napa Valley vineyard. Downwind deposition samples, in-swath deposition samples, and downwind air samples were collected up to 48 m downwind of the application field. In-swath deposition samples measured approximately 57% of the target rate, while downwind drift deposition decreased from approximately 0.4% at 7.5 m downwind to 0.03% at 48 m downwind. All air samples were below the method detection limit. A drift deposition curve fitted to measured ground deposition using a log-log second-degree polynomial function yielded an R2 value of 0.985. An estimated 0.28% to 0.54% of applied material was lost as drift out to 50 m downwind of the field edge based on ground deposition measurements, 82% of which deposited within the first 7.5 m downwind. Uncertainty in mass accountancy and deposition measurements is discussed, with sources of error including obstructions in the downwind measurement area, low collection efficiency of the sampling media, a high coefficient of variation of spray deposition in the treatment field, and possible photodegradation of the tracer material.

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