The objective of this study was to test the feasibility of using coverage measurements from water-sensitive spray cards to estimate the volumetric flow rate at an individual sprayer nozzle. TeeJet VisiFlow Even Flat Spray Tips were selected due to their uniform distribution of coverage. Spray distribution for each nozzle was validated using a spray patternator table with 2.5 cm sampling widths. A rotary test fixture translated water-sensitive spray cards through the spray dispersion (water at ambient conditions) at a constant angular velocity and a radius of 1.2 m. The test fixture measured volumetric flow and pressure at the nozzle and recorded data at a rate of 10 Hz. A helical gear pump and a piston-type pressure regulating valve were used to provide constant pressure. The first experiment fixed the test fixture speed at 3.14 rad s-1 and used varying pressures from 70 to 552 kPa (10 to 80 psi) in 70 kPa (10 psi) increments. First-order and second-order regression models were developed for the nozzle series, and validation data were collected at intermediate pressures to test the ability of the model to predict volumetric flow rates. The second experiment fixed the system pressure at 310 kPa (45 psi) and varied the speed of the test fixture at seven increments between 2.0 and 3.8 rad s-1. Spray cards were digitized using a scanner and processed for coverage using the MATLAB image processing toolbox. Results showed that the accuracy of the spray card method was within 1% full-scale of a commercial impeller flowmeter for a single series of nozzles moving at constant speed. Varying speed could be accounted for but required knowledge of the individual nozzle model. The method demonstrated in this study may be useful for field validation of variable-rate control systems on agricultural sprayers.

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Published in Transactions of the ASABE, v. 59, issue 3, p. 861-869.

© 2016 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

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