Estimating off-rate pesticide application errors resulting from agricultural sprayer turning movements

Joe D. Luck, Santosh K. Pitla, Rodrigo S. Zandonadi, Michael P. Sama, Scott A. Shearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Pesticide application is an essential practice on many U. S. crop farms. Off-rate pesticide application errors may result from velocity differential across the spray boom while turning, pressure fluctuations across the spray boom, or changes in boom-to-canopy height due to undulating terrain. The sprayer path co-ordinates and the status (on or off) of each boom control section were recorded using the sprayer control console which provided map-based automatic boom section control. These data were collected for ten fields of varying shapes and sizes located in central Kentucky. In order to estimate potential errors resulting from sprayer turning movements, a method was developed to compare the differences in application areas between spray boom control sections. The area covered by the center boom control section was considered the "target rate area" and the difference in these areas and the areas covered by remaining control sections were compared to estimate application rate errors. The results of this analysis conducted with sprayer application files collected from ten fields, many containing impassable grassed waterways, indicated that a substantial portion of the fields (6.5-23.8%) could have received application in error by more than ±10% of the target rate. Off-rate application errors exceeding ±10% of the target rate for the study fields tended to increase as the average turning angles increased. The implication of this is that producers may be unintentionally applying at off-label rates in fields of varying shapes and sizes where turning movements are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-545
Number of pages12
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments The authors would like to express their appreciation to Mike Ellis, Bob Ellis, Jim Ellis, and Matt McClure of Worth and Dee Ellis Farm for their cooperation on this research project. This material is based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement no. 2008-34628-19532. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The information reported in this paper (no. 10-05-045) is part of a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director. Mention of trade names is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily imply endorsement by the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station.


  • Chemical application
  • No-till farming
  • Precision spraying
  • Spray boom
  • Variable-rate application

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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