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Tree shape and foliage volume-map guided precision orchard sprayer

Contract nr: QLK5-CT-1999-01630
Project type: RS (Research and Technological Development Project)
Starting date: 01-02-2000
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 3,002,200 EUR
EC Contribution: 1,686,524 EUR
Scientific Officer: Michel VAN DEN BOSSCHE
Research topic: 5.1.1. Sustainable agriculture/Plant Systems

Abstract:
Matching spray volume and direction to tree sizes and shapes can reduce chemical application, thus reducing operational costs and environmental pollution by 30% and more. A tree-specific vaiable volume-precision orchard sprayer, guided by foliage shape and volume map is proposed. Tree maps will be obtained by a novel 3-D aerial survey method, converted from defence applications, and will be incorporated as a layer into a plant protection and orchard management GIS database. The sprayer guidance module will control spray amount and direction according to the foliage structure map. The supporting GIS database will be capable of monitoring infestation, utilising plant protection management and decision support systems and keeping automatically detailed records of spray applications, from the guidance system feedback.

Objectives:
The main aim of the project is to develop a precision control system for orchard sprayers where the spray orientation and spray volume is adjusted to tree foliage shapes and volumes, by the guidance of three-dimensional digital orchard map, derived from stereoscopic photography aerial survey.

The main components of the system will be:
1. Digital elevation model (DEM) of tree location and foliage size and shape. It will be created by aerial survey of the orchards, with a novel three-dimensional reconnaissance system, developed and employed lately for defence purposes. Relevant parts of the reconnaissance system will be converted to agricultural and orchard mapping.
2. Tree shape and volume map (TSV) layer in an orchard management geographic information system (GIS) database. The DEM will be incorporated as a specific layer in the GIS intended for plant protection management and other general uses in orchard management. A digital interface file for sprayer guidance will be created as output. Spray applications will be recorded as tree specific inputs in the same database by the sprayer guidance system feedback module.
3. Sprayer guidance and control module. It will be guided by the digital interface file map, (tree position and volume - TPV) representing the tree locations, shapes and volumes. Positioning in the orchard will use a differential geo-positioning system (DGPS), anchored to fixed ground reference points. The spray volume will be adjusted to tree size by control of the outputs on a segmented vertical spraying boom to match the foliage shapes and volumes of the mapped trees. The system is designed in independent modules, interfaced with the guidance map file. This will allow autonomous and independent operation of the sprayer from aerial surveys and re-use of the map interface file, thereby reducing the costs of operation.


Coordinator
Jacob ARZI
MIGAL Galilee Technology Center
Rosh Pina
ISRAEL
Tel.: +972 6 6953505
Fax: +972 6 6944980
E-mail: arzi@migal.co.il


Partners
  A.A. JONGEBREUR
Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engine
Wageningen
THE NETHERLANDS
Tel.: +31 317476300
Fax: +31 317425670
  Joseph LIBERMAN
APAC-NTB
Macabim
ISRAEL
Tel.: +972 3 5402770
Fax: +972 3 5498794
E-mail: natv@netvision.net.il
  Yitzhak SPIEGEL
Agricultual Research Organization
Bet Dagan
ISRAEL
Tel.: +972 3 9683227
Fax: +972 3 9665327
E-mail: vspiegel@netvision.net.il
  Per Gummer ANDERSEN
Hardi International A/S
Taastrup
DENMARK
Tel.: +45 43588352
Fax: +45 43713355
E-mail: pga@hardi-international.com
  Reinhard SCHIETINGER
Landesanstalt fur Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenschutz
Mainz
GERMANY
Tel.: +49 6131 99300
Fax: +49 6131 993085
E-mail: poststelle-lpp-mainz@agrarinfo.rpl.de
  Rob MEIJER
Fruit Research Station
Randwijk
THE NETHERLANDS
Tel.: +31 400473700
Fax: +31 400473717
E-mail: r.j.m.meijer@fpo.agro.nl
  E. SHIMBORSKY
GISHA Systems
Jerusalem
ISRAEL
Tel.: +972 3 5754811
Fax: +972 3 5755392
E-mail: gisha@inter.net.il