Good Fruit Grower

December 2011

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 79

New Equipment & Technology Spray equipment still evolving Emerging technologies, like a fixed spray system, would be a "game changer." by Melissa Hansen nologies could include sprayers that are site specific, sense and adjust for canopy density, or are fixed systems that eliminate tractor-pulled spray rigs. Gwen Hoheisel, Washington State University Exten- A sion educator and leader of a spray application research project funded by the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, said that the Raven rate control system was "the biggest breakthrough" in orchard and vineyard spray technology in recent years. The technology, developed for boom sprayers used on field and row crops, allows growers to better control application rates, even if tractor speed changes. major breakthrough in orchard spray technol- ogy in the last decade has been a rate control system that automatically calibrates sprayers during spraying, saving countless gallons of crop protection chemicals. Future spray tech- The Raven spray controller has brought major improvements to orchard spraying. Gregg Marrs of Blueline Manufacturing and Equip- ment Company, Moxee, Washington, agrees that the Raven rate control system, named after the company that makes it, has had a big impact on spray applications. "Sprayer calibration involves knowing ground speed, pressure, nozzle size, and diameter," Marrs said, explain- ing that the Raven rate system accurately measures speed, uses row spacing, and automatically calibrates the amount of spray that's been programmed. Spray rig calibration is necessary to know accurately how much pesticide is being applied, but sprayers are often improperly calibrated, resulting in more pesticide being applied than intended. "Ground speed is different than tractor speed, and it changes when you're going uphill or downhill," he said. It's really difficult for a tractor driver to maintain an exact, constant speed in an orchard, but speed greatly affects rate. It's also difficult to accurately measure nozzle size, as wear and tear of nozzles can change the spray pattern. Since the Raven rate system was adapted for orchard sprayers ten years ago, Marrs has sold about 1,000 units. "If you can improve calibration by 15 percent—which is a low number—you can save 15 percent in material that's applied over the course of the year, not counting operator time," he said. "Considering that an average orchardist applies $30,000 to $40,000 worth of chemicals in a year, that 15 percent savings (from $4,500 to $6,000) is significant." The Raven rate system can generate a two-to-one return on investment, he added. While tower sprayers have greatly improved the deliv- ery of sprays through better targeting, he still believes that the rate control system has made its mark on the tree fruit industry. ISOMATE - CM FL -CM F LEX TE -CM FLEX ® Sustainable Mating Disruption Technolog echno ating Disruption Technolog y echnology f for Your Growing Needs of 200-400 dispensers per acr 00 dispensers per acr pe pensers per acre 20 DECEMBER 2011 GOOD FRUIT GROWER off 200-40 L E X courtesy blueline equipment

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - December 2011