Validation of agricultural sprayers is important for quantifying as-applied coverage rates under field conditions. The complexity of modern sprayer control systems presents a challenge for precise field validation due to the use of nozzle control technologies, such as pulse width modulation, to meter chemical flow rates at individual nozzles. Non-uniform flow over time may result in local variations at high spatial resolutions that are ignored when estimating as-applied coverage rates across a field. The purpose of this study was to test several methods for estimating the mass of water applied to a water-sensitive paper spray card target using steady-state and instantaneous measurement techniques. The steady-state method consisted of a spray patternator table used to quantify the mass flow rate distribution across the nozzle width at varying nozzle pressures. The mass flow rate was then projected onto a two-dimensional area traveling across the spray width to calculate the mass of water that was deposited in the area. Two instantaneous sampling methods were used. The first method directly measured the mass of the spray card and water for 5 min after exposure to model the evaporation rate and solve for the initial mass at the time of exposure. The second method indirectly used the percent coverage of the exposed spray card by droplets. Results showed that the error between the calculated mass of water from the mass flow rate and the estimated initial mass of water from the evaporation rate varied between 2% and 8%. The relationships between the calculated and estimated initial mass of water methods and the spray card percent coverage were highly linear (R2 > 0.98). Both instantaneous methods produced results with higher variability between replications than the steady-state method, but the number of replications resulted in acceptably small differences between average mass measurements. These results show the potential for using evaporation rates for laboratory validation and percent coverage for laboratory or field validation of as-applied coverage rates.

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Published in Transactions of the ASABE, v. 61, issue 3, p. 887-895.

© 2018 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

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This material is based on work supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture under agreements 2017-67021-26250 and KY005038.

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This is Publication No. 18-04-55 of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the director.