Spray drift is one of the main sources of pesticide contamination. For this reason, an accurate understanding of this phenomenon is necessary in order to limit its effects. Nowadays, spray drift is usually studied by using in situ
collectors which only allow time-integrated sampling of specific points of the pesticide clouds. Previous research has demonstrated that the light detection and ranging (lidar) technique can be an alternative for spray drift monitoring. This technique enables remote measurement of pesticide clouds with high temporal and distance resolution. Despite these advantages, the fact that no lidar instrument suitable for such an application is presently available has appreciably limited its practical use. This work presents the first eye-safe lidar system specifically designed for the monitoring of pesticide clouds. Parameter design of this system is carried out via signal-to-noise ratio simulations. The instrument is based on a 3-mJ pulse-energy erbium-doped glass laser, an 80-mm diameter telescope, an APD optoelectronic receiver and optomechanically adjustable components. In first test measurements, the lidar system has been able to measure a topographic target located over 2 km away. The instrument has also been used in spray drift studies, demonstrating its capability to monitor the temporal and distance evolution of several pesticide clouds emitted by air-assisted sprayers at distances between 50 and 100 m.
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