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Improved premixing in-line injection system for variable-rate orchard sprayers with Arduino platform

Zhihong Zhang, Heping Zhu, Huseyin Guler, Yue Shen
Computers and electronics in agriculture 2019 v.162 pp. 389-396
fluorescence, mixing, nozzles, oils, orchards, pesticides, sprayers, sucrose, tap water, turpentine, viscosity
To reduce the tank mixture leftover problem associated with variable-rate orchard sprayers, an experimental automatic premixing in-line injection system was developed with Arduino platform. This system primarily consisted of a precision fluid metering pump, a water pump, a static mixer, a premixing tank and a buffer tank. The required amounts of water and chemical concentrates were accurately pumped into the premixing tank through a static mixer. The mixture was then transferred into a buffer tank for additional mixing process and for the spray pump to discharge to variable flow-rate nozzles. When the buffer tank neared empty, this process was repeated automatically to maintain the same chemical ratio for all nozzles regardless of their spray output differences and variations. Accuracy of the metering pump was verified with simulated pesticide concentrates (tap water, turpentine oil, prime oil, and four different viscous sucrose solutions) at viscosities between 0.9 and 32.0 mPa·s. With addition of a fluorescent tracer, the sucrose solutions were also used to evaluate the uniformity of spray mixtures discharged from the premixing in-line injection system. Test results demonstrated that the fluid metering pump could accurately dispense desired volume (10–300 mL) of simulated pesticides at different pump rotational speeds with relative errors between measured and desired volumes below 5%. The uniformity of spray mixtures at different chemical-to-water ratios (0.1%–2.0%) was consistent, and the highest relative error and coefficient of variation were 7.6% and 4.5%, respectively. The experimental premixing in-line injection system was proven to have stable and accurate performance, and thus would have great potentials to improve spray application efficiency with minimized tank mixture leftovers for future variable-rate sprayers.