Kiwi eco-tech pioneer UBCO is hoping for increased sales of its utility electric bikes across New Zealand farms, thanks to funding from the government backed Carbn Group.
The density-based spray system utilises LIDAR sensor technology to detect the specific architecture of the canopy, which in turn creates a digital representation of the crop characteristics, including height, width, spacing and the density of each plant it passes. This digital information is then converted into a signal to each independently controlled spray nozzle for instant application and adjustment of spray where required, thereby reducing chemical use and achieving considerable cost savings.
Researched, developed and field-tested at the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture over the past decade, the BA Smart Sprayer has been proven to reduce spray inputs and spray loss beyond canopies, says John Dixon, Operations Manager at BA Pumps and Sprayers. “The system is proving effective in reducing up to 87 percent of airborne drift, delivering both environmental and economic sustainability.” The level of precision that the system can achieve has significant long-term benefits for vineyards by way of seasonal growth data, healthier plants, greater overall yields and cleaner, safer groundwater, he says.
The system also lends itself to retrofitting to existing air blast spray equipment, using an Android tablet for display to enable easy application. The sensor technology works in tandem with GPS to determine ground speed and field position, allowing growers to gauge spray coverage and gather valuable data about their vines. There is also the flexibility to revert to manual spraying applications if conditions require this approach.
BA Pumps and Sprayers, formerly known as Bertolini Australasia, will be conducting a series of demonstration events throughout New Zealand to introduce the technology to Kiwi growers.