Smart Technology Cuts Spray Costs

Dan Citrus, Research

As they battle HLB, growers must control costs wherever possible, including by applying pesticides and fertilizer more efficiently.

With that in mind, Yiannis Ampatzidis is engaging artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a low-cost, smart tree-crop sprayer that can automatically detect citrus trees, calculate their height and leaf density, and count fruit. That way, growers target their spray more efficiently, so it lands on trees and leaves and reduces chemical use by about 30% compared to traditional spray methods.

The smart sprayer can reduce chemical use by approximately 30%.
Photo by Yiannis Ampatzidis, UF/IFAS

“These smart technologies can save the fruit-tree industry millions of dollars per year by optimizing chemical applications,” said Ampatzidis, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering. Ampatzidis works at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in Immokalee.

Smart spray technology lets the grower vary the amount applied based on tree size and leaf density, and it will not spray if there is no tree or if a tree appears dead. It also does not spray if it finds other objects, such as a water pump, a pole or a person.

“This new technology will further enhance the tree-profiling systems we have in place today, with the ability to detect and only spray the target foliage,” Ampatzidis said. “Our data, collected by smart sensors, can control the amount of spray applied to the tree, in real time, and is stored in the controller to be downloaded for further processing.”

The system utilizes machine vision, GPS and a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing system. Ampatzidis developed algorithms to process the data as well as software to control the sensors.

The technology, cited in new research Ampatzidis published, can also help farmers predict their crop yields. Ampatzidis conducted …..

Learn more about how Smart Technology Cuts Spray Costs on the Citrus Industry website.