DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF A PROTOTYPE VARIABLE RATE SPRAYER FOR SPOT-APPLICATION OF AGROCHEMICALS IN WILD BLUEBERRY FIELDS
An automated prototype variable rate (VR) sprayer was developed for control of eight individual nozzles on a 6.1 m sprayer boom for spot-application (SA) of agrochemicals in wild blueberry fields. The VR control system consisted of eight ultrasonic sensors and four cameras mounted on a separate boom in front of the ATV, flow controller, VR controller, ruggedized computer, flow valve and solenoid valves. Custom software was capable of processing the images to detect weeds or plants in real-time and automatically send a signal to the VR controller for SA at the correct target. The performance of VR sprayer for SA on weeds (herbicide) and foliage (fungicide) was evaluated in commercial wild blueberry fields. Based on the results of this study, the VR sprayer was reliable, efficient and accurate enough for SA of agrochemicals. The average volume of chemical saved with SA was 70 % herbicide and 30 % fungicide.