AEM Sprayer Leadership GroupAEM’s Agriculture Sprayer Leadership Group recently concluded a series of presentations with the U.S. EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs focused on existing and emerging sprayer technologies.

The goal of these presentations was to inform EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs on sprayer technologies these technologies address spray drift, create a safer work environment and reduce the amount of application needed. In addition, they served as a continuation of AEM’s strong relationship with EPA, along with the association’s efforts in being proactive to bring the voice of the manufacturer to the table.

The first presentation covered sprayer technologies that exist within the marketplace today, including:

  • Enabling technologies that work in collaboration with all the other technologies to help ensure the application is being placed in the correct location
  • Control technologies that monitor the application rates and placement to make sure the operator is placing the precise amount of chemical needed in the correct location
  • Application technologies that allow operators to apply chemical in different ways based on the needs of the field or the external conditions, such as weather, that can influence an application

Following this presentation, AEM’s Sprayer Leadership Group was asked to present on emerging technologies within the agricultural sprayer industry. The group decided to cover both technologies that are slowly emerging in the market today (or will be soon), as well as what technologies may be further out on the horizon.

The group covered technologies such as:

  • Sensor fusion systems and the integration of multiple sensors working together to make adjustments
  • Air-assisted spraying and its ability to more precisely place the chemical while reducing drift and being able to deliver it through a canopy
  • Autonomous sprayers and the level of autonomy that exists within the industry in the moment, along with how close full autonomy can be achieved in the near future
  • Drone technology and its ability to deliver chemicals in a precise manner that can be done completely independent of an in-field operator
  • Autonomous sprayer loading and its ability to precisely deliver the correct chemical mix to the machine while removing the human interaction with the chemical throughout the mixing/loading process
  • LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) as an enabler of autonomous vehicles, whether that be a ground based or air-based application
  • Swarm technologies and their ability to reduce compaction and more precisely place an application due to their size

All of these technologies matter because they have a role to play in the crop care journey. They also provide some direct benefits as well. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduced amount of pesticides applies for a lesser impact on the environment
  • Cost savings to the farmer through reduced pesticide use
  • increased yield thru individualized plant care
  • Less compaction, which results in better plant emergence

All of these, along with many other reason, are why these technologies matter (and underscore their potential impact).

In total the scope of impact of these presentations was very large. The presentations had a total combined audience of 331 people. 317 of those were from EPA, and 216 were unique attendees between the two.

They also served as further evidence to the strong ongoing relationship that AEM has worked toward developing with EPA and the Office of Pesticide Programs over the years. Having such a strong relationship helps AEM and the industry be proactive in getting the message out about the important innovations being made to make equipment safer for the operator, environment and the community as a whole. It also serves as a way the association can head off the need for regulatory action or ensure the industry has a seat at the table as a trusted partner if and when EPA wants to proceed with a rulemaking impacting sprayers.

For more information on AEM’s Agriculture Sprayer Leadership Group and its activities, contact AEM’s Austin Gellings at agellings@aem.org.

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