Modular system for adjustable spraying and navigation in orchards and greenhouses

A modular system for adjustable spraying and navigation in orchards and greenhouses will be developed. It will enable sprayer control regarding presence of plants. It will be offered as modular system for installation on existing and new air blast sprayers.

Agriculture currently faces among others two problems: excessive pollution for plant protection and excess operator workload / labour problems. Plant protection against diseases, insects and weeds is necessary for good quantity and quality of harvest. The most common way today is chemical way of plant protection by pesticides. Problems of soil, underwater, air, plants and products pollution are keys to the modern agriculture. Large quantities of liquid chemicals for plant protection are not applied on target surfaces (plants surfaces, etc.) but finish in environment. Sustainable agriculture must therefore follow the way to reduce harmful influence to the living environment by diminishing amount of applied chemicals. The proposal also addresses problem of labour in the agricultural sector. Low valued labour on the farms should be replaced by high skilled labour by enabling introduction of advanced systems which are efficient and cost effective. The proposed project results can release the farmer from back breaking demands of farm work, the major reason the younger generation refuses to adopt farming as an occupation. Additionally, this approach can stimulate the rural economy and help reduce the migration to urban areas. Purpose of the project is twofold: (1) to reduce the amount of phyto-pharmaceutical products, which represent immense burdening of the environment while achieving satisfactory phyto-pharmaceutical effect, and (2) enable reduction of manpower and amount of operations required for plant protection. Reduction of the amount of pesticides can be achieved with more accurate deposition on the target surfaces, by spraying operating parameters continuously adapted to the canopy characteristics (such as volume, shape, and density) and by varying them in space and time. During the project we will develop a new generation of affordable and configurable spray dosing and navigation modules, which will be mounted on new or existing sprayers. New configuration will reduce the environmental burdening (soil, groundwater, air, plants, animal and human food etc.) with phyto-pharmaceutical products by 20 % and will reduce workload to the operator by 50 % and enable partial automated application. New configurable modular system will enable accurate application and navigation for efficient use of phyto-pharmaceutical products. Several modules will be available, their use will depend on requirements of farmers like air blast sprayer type and size, area of application, open field/greenhouse application, etc. Detection method will be robust, we will use ultrasonic transducers for plant detection. New algorithms will be developed for efficient sensing and decision making. The following modules will be developed: (1) detection module, based on ultrasonic principle of operation, if required imaging will also be used, (2) computer module, (3) speed sensor module, (4) actuation module, (5) navigation interface module and (6) conformation modules for adaptation to various existing sprayers. The concept requires a strong multidisciplinary approach complemented by specialised domain knowledge. This will be achieved by a consortium network of universities, research institutes and SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises), working with senior researchers from different disciplines (agricultural, mechanical and industrial engineering, artificial intelligence, and computer sciences). Growers, extension specialists, and crop scientists will be involved throughout the process of development to ensure that these developments will be adopted by growers. There will be no requirement to adapt horticultural practices to fit the technological developments. Since the success of the technological developments depends on their acceptance by end-users and equipment manufacturers, special measures will be taken to ensure successful market penetration by involving stake-holders, economists, system engineers, machine producers and rural, commodity and industrial associations. This activity will guarantee economic feasibility, technology transfer and added social value to farms of different sizes and types. Ensuring economic feasibility will be one of the main tasks of the companies involved. Groups involved in this proposal participate in 7th EU FP (Framework Programme) project application for robotics in agriculture (CROPS). This applied bilateral project will benefit from the FP project research. Technology and application-wise it will be on the lower end of the FP project regarding sensor and software complexity, requirements, price, capability and efficiency. The proposed project is continuation of bilateral project "Development of a robotic system for targeted spraying in orchards and vineyards" with contract number 1000-07-3380013 (SLOVENIA). In the mentioned project more than 30% reduction of pesticides use was attained with operator supervision, and sensing was based on imaging.
Project ID: 
5 403
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
360 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Horticulture technology
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.