On a cold and blowing April 4th afternoon ten Papé Machinery members rallied to demonstrate our latest orchard sprayer technology at the Lewis Farm in Aumsville, Oregon. Farmers from five different operations came to learn about and watch the Smart Apply system and the autonomous GUSS sprayer in action.
The Smart Apply computerized nozzle control system was mounted to a Rears 600 sprayer and hitched to our sleek and comfortable John Deere 5125M Exact Cab tractor. The concept of the Smart Apply system is to read the position of each branch of the next tree to be sprayed and send the info to the sprayer nozzle controller.
When the nozzles are precisely adjacent to the tree, each nozzle is turned on individually to apply spray only to the intended branches of the tree. When no branch is in the impact zone of any one nozzle, that nozzle is shut off. All of this is performed in real time as the tractor/sprayer are in motion in the field. The Smart Apply system can spray simultaneously on both sides of the sprayer, allowing for two rows of trees to be sprayed in the same pass. This provides the benefit of reducing spray usage, saving the farmer money and reducing the release of chemicals.
The sprayer was pulled through the orchard of 7-year-old McDonald hazelnuts spaced 20 feet apart. In the first pass, the Smart Apply system was disengaged and the trees were sprayed with the conventional uninterrupted flow of water through the selected nozzles for that size of trees. The Rears system recorded the volume of water used for this pass at 29 gallons.
With the second pass through the same pair of tree rows, the Smart Apply system was turned on. It was impressive to see the nozzles turn off and on between the trees. The proof of the Smart Apply system was confirmed when the amount of water used to spray the same trees was reduced to 5.25 gallons. Quick math showed us the Smart Apply reduced the spray used by 82% and still got the job done.
The GUSS autonomous sprayer was presented and demonstrated after the Smart Apply demo. This is a four wheel drive, four wheel steering low profile unit that requires no operator. A beacon is placed on the hood of a John Deere Gator or other field capable machine and the field is mapped by simply driving the perimeter and along one side of the field. We call this the A-B line. Simply enter in the spacing between the rows, and the GUSS goes to work. This machine finds the middle of each row, starts with the first tree and ends precisely at the end of the last tree. The four wheel steering allows GUSS to turn on a dime. We overcame our own skepticisms by putting a Gator in the row to see what GUSS would do, and after GUSS proved to us it would stop, we replaced the Gator with a 1 x 4 driven the narrow way into the row. GUSS read the obstacle and stopped before touching the stake.
Everyone in the field was impressed that the beacon can direct up to 8 of the GUSS sprayers simultaneously. We learned that the GUSS knows not only how much spray is in the tank, but how much is needed for each row. Before beginning a row, it calculates if it has enough to finish the row, and if not, it returns to the refilling area.
Some farmers were so motivated by what they learned that they asked if the Smart Apply system could be combined with the GUSS. Look for more updates as we field test that combination!
If you're interested in finding out more about the Smart Apply system or the GUSS sprayer, contact your local Papé Machinery Ag & Turf representative.