Potential for pesticide and nutrient savings via map-based automatic boom section control of spray nozzles

J. D. Luck, S. K. Pitla, S. A. Shearer, T. G. Mueller, C. R. Dillon, J. P. Fulton, S. F. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Reducing off-target chemical application errors can improve profitability and reduce pesticide and nutrient losses to the environment from agricultural operations. Off-target errors include: skipped-application, multiple-application, and unintentional-application to environmentally sensitive areas. Current spray application technologies limit the ability of producers to control pesticide application to a resolution of approximately 5-10 m or greater with large self-propelled sprayers. The objective of this case study was to present a summary of results from three fields that highlight the potential benefits of automatic boom section control technology. Map-based automatic section control was achieved through the addition of a ZYNX X15 control console with a 30 channel spray electronic control unit to a self-propelled sprayer with a 24.76 m boom in Shelby County, Kentucky. For each field, the sprayed area calculated with map-based automatic boom section control was compared to the total area covered by the spray boom. A reduction of 15.2-17.5% in the area applied to each field was achieved with map-based automatic boom section control versus no boom section control. As expected, savings were reduced with lower control resolution; however these arrangements still resulted in a reduction in applied areas where three sections (∼8% reduction) and five sections (∼11% reduction) were compared to no boom section control. Statistical analysis revealed significant reductions in control section "on" time from the center to exterior boom control section positions. These results indicate that map-based automatic boom section control can provide savings for producers adopting this technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Chemical application
  • Grassed waterways
  • No-till farming
  • Precision agriculture
  • Precision spraying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Horticulture


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