UF agricultural engineer develops smart spray technology to help reduce fertilizers and pesticides

IMMOKALEE, Fla .– Growers need to spray efficiently so they can only apply pesticides and fertilizers to crops – and minimize chemicals that can contaminate natural resources.

As they battle the economically devastating disease of citrus greening, farmers must seek to control costs where possible.

With this in mind, Yiannis Ampatzidis is using artificial intelligence to develop a smart, inexpensive sprayer for tree crops that can automatically detect citrus fruits, calculate their height and leaf density, and count fruits. This way, farmers target their spray more effectively, so that it lands on trees and leaves – and reduces chemical use by around 30% compared to traditional spraying methods.

Yiannis Ampatzidis, agricultural engineer for UF / IFAS, uses artificial intelligence to develop a smart tree sprayer.

“These smart technologies can save the fruit tree industry millions of dollars per year by optimizing chemical applications,” said Ampatzidis, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at UF / IFAS at Southwest Florida Research and Education. Center.

Smart spray technology allows the grower to vary the amount applied based on tree size and leaf density, and it will not spray if there is no tree or a tree appears. dead. It also does not spray if it finds other objects, such as a water pump, a pole or a person, for example.

“This new technology will further improve the tree profiling systems we have in place today, with the ability to detect and spray only target foliage,” Ampatzidis said. “Our data, collected by smart sensors, can monitor the amount of spray applied to the shaft, in real time, and is stored in the controller to be downloaded for further processing.”

The system uses machine vision, GPS and LiDAR, a light detection and remote sensing system. Ampatzidis has also developed algorithms to process the data as well as software to control the sensors.

Technology, cited in new published research by Ampatzidis, can also help farmers predict crop yields. To test the system, Ampatzidis conducted several experiments in central citrus orchards and on commercial farms and found that they used less pesticides and fertilizers.

New technology developed by Yiannis Ampatzidis at the UF / IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center applies more pesticides and fertilizers to fruit trees, which means fewer chemicals in the environment.

Protecting citrus fruits and their fruits is an important part of any grower’s budget. Just in the orange groves of southwest Florida, plant protection product applications cost around 34% of total production costs.

Industry Partner, Chemical Containers Inc, Evaluated Technology And Reached Agreement With UF Innovate | Technical license to license and commercialize smart spray technology.

As they continue to assess the effectiveness of the system, Ampatzidis and his team will study how well it detects and sprays trees in fields with tall weeds in more commercial thickets. He and his team will also be testing the system on other fruits, including peaches, apples and pecans, to see how well it works on those tree growing systems.

“We also plan to develop smart fertilizer spreaders to improve nutrient management,” he said. “Goal-based management can help farmers apply the necessary nutrients to the field, rather than applying fertilizers evenly. “

About AI at UF

The University of Florida is making artificial intelligence the centerpiece of a major, long-term initiative that combines world-class research infrastructure, cutting-edge research, and a transformational approach to the curriculum. UF is home to the most powerful university supercomputer in the country, according to the 2021 ranking published by TOP500, contributing to innovative research and education opportunities.


The mission of University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF / IFAS) is to develop knowledge relating to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make this knowledge available to support and improve the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty from the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF / IFAS brings science-based solutions to the agricultural and natural resource industries of the State, and all of Florida. residents.
ifas.ufl.edu | @UF_IFAS

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