UF/IFAS Associate Professor Yiannis Ampatzidis is developing smart-spray technology to help Florida citrus growers to save on pesticide and fertilizer use.

Saving on inputs is one way for Florida citrus growers to offset the high costs of managing citrus greening, and one UF/IFAS researcher is developing smart-spray technology to help citrus growers to save on fertilizer and pesticide use. Associate Professor Yiannis Ampatzidis is developing a “a low-cost, smart tree-crop sprayer that can automatically detect citrus trees, calculate their height and leaf density and count fruit,” according to a Growing Produce article. See the details below.

Smart-Spray Technology

“These smart technologies can save the fruit tree industry millions of dollars per year by optimizing chemical applications,” Ampatzidis said. According to the article, the smart-spray technology allows citrus growers to “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 system utilizes GPS, LiDAR, algorithms to process data, and software to control the sensors to vary the applications based on tree size and leaf density, stop spraying if it detects something other than a tree, and help to predict crop yields. Field trials showed the technology helped growers to use less fertilizer and pesticides.

“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. 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.” Ampatzidis said.

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