Special Issue "Precision Technologies and Novel Farming Practices to Reduce Chemical Inputs in Agriculture"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2022) | Viewed by 3692

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marco Grella
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Science (DiSAFA), University of Torino (UNITO), Grugliasco, Italy
Interests: agricultural plant protection; crop protection; horticultural crop protection; agricultural technology; spray application technology; precision agriculture; variable rate application; spray drift measurements; spray drift mitigation technology; spray deposition and coverage measurements; droplet size spectra measurements; spray quality evaluation; point source reduction; farm managements of waste liquids containing PPP residues; water quality; soil and water conservation; training on best management practices for crop protection
Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Stefano Gioelli
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Science (DiSAFA), University of Torino (UNITO), Grugliasco, Italy
Interests: agricultural plant protection; crop protection; agricultural technology; spray application technology; spray drift measurements; spray drift mitigation technology; spray deposition and coverage measurements; water quality; soil and water conservation; spray application best management practices training course; animal waste management; precision agriculture; ammonia and greenhouse gases emission mitigation strategies; technologies for organic and chemical fertilizers application; anaerobic digestion; pre-treatments of feedstock for biogas production
Dr. Paolo Marucco
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Science (DiSAFA), University of Torino (UNITO), Grugliasco, Italy
Interests: crop protection technology; spray drift measurements and mitigation measures; point source reduction; pesticide application waste management; precision agriculture; training on best management practices for crop protection; autonomous systems for PPP application
Dr. Jordi Llop Casamada
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agri Food Engineering and Biotechnology (DEAB), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Barcelona, Spain
Interests: agricultural plant protection, crop protection technology; horticultural crop protection; specialty crops crop protection; spray drift measurements and mitigation measures; point source reduction; pesticide application waste management; spray deposition and coverage measurements; precision agriculture; variable rate application; prescription maps; training on best management practices for crop protection; autonomous systems for PPP application; technologies for organic and chemical fertilizers application; spray-liquid distribution pattern; canopy characterization; air flow distribution pattern; operator exposure to pesticides

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Current food production model generates some air, water, and soil pollution, contributing to the loss of biodiversity, climate change, and resource depletion. The sustainability of agriculture is a key point to feed human population in the future. Nowadays, it depends on the large use of chemical and non-chemical inputs such as plant protection products (PPP) and fertilizers.

PPP spray application is recognized worldwide as one of the agricultural practices that has a high impact on the environment and human health mainly due to the losses (e.g., spray drift and in-field out of target losses), exposure, and total amount of products used during the whole crop growing season. The risks related to human health during spray application involve operators, bystanders, and resident people, whereas risks to the environment involve water, soil, and atmosphere quality, and non-target organisms such as vertebrates, useful arthropods, and other invertebrates. Also fertilizers, both mineral and organic ones, represent a potential source of environmental pollution when managed improperly and applied with unsustainable machineries and techniques. Both groundwater and the atmosphere can be affected due to nitrates leaching and gaseous losses, respectively. Ammonia emission as well as nitrogen losses in the form of nitrous oxide are the major concerns.

Nowadays, the equation of high efficacious/efficient agricultural practices and reduced hazardous inputs could be concurrently balanced by adopting the most appropriate and innovative technologies to reduce the inputs at source by also giving preference to the most efficient agricultural practices.

A tailored and integrated crop protection and nutrition management, adopting new technologies and applications of biological products is needed to make possible a more sustainable agriculture, reducing the dependency on chemical PPPs and fertilizers while maintaining the pest and disease control efficacy as well as the nutrition benefits for the crop. The wide range of existing agronomic scenarios makes the sustainability of agronomic practices very challenging. Each scenario is characterized by specific crops, pest/diseases, agronomical practices, soil characteristics, nutrient requirements, and meteorological and geographic conditions.

This Special Issue aims at collecting original contributions on recent efforts and advances in i) innovative technologies and techniques for phytosanitary products and fertilizer applications based on precision agriculture principles (e.g., Variable Rate Application technologies for both PPP and fertilizers, canopy characterization, site specific weed control), ii) innovative agricultural practices (e.g., organic farming, integrated crop management) and iii) novel products for pest control (e.g., bio-PPP) and organic fertilization (e.g., organo-mineral fertilizers from animal manure, digestate). Advances shall have the final goal of consistently reduce the hazardous chemical inputs promoting biodiversity in a wide range of agronomic scenarios like arable crops (e.g., cereals), 3D crops (e.g., orchards, vineyards, citrus, olives), horticultural crops (e.g., potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage) and greenhouse-protected crops (e.g., tomato, pepper). All these technologies, techniques, and practices should also be sustainable from the socio-economic point of view. Furthermore, the sustainability of the agriculture also needs good training programs to transfer all the existing knowledge to stakeholders, first of all farmers and advisers; therefore, contributions on this topic are also welcome.

The topics of interest for this Special Issue include but are not limited to the following:

  • Airflow variable rate application
  • Alternated use of chemicals and biological products for crop protection and nutrition
  • Canopy characterization
  • Canopy spray deposition measurements
  • Canopy spray coverage measurements
  • Evaluation of bio-pesticides efficacy
  • Evaluation of drift mitigation measures
  • Evaluation of pesticide and/or fertilizer savings
  • Evaluation of spray quality including droplet size spectra measurements
  • Fertilizers variable rate application
  • Green manure approaches
  • In-field spray losses reducing
  • Intercropping
  • Modeling of spray and airflow patterns
  • New organic fertilizers
  • Nitrogen approaches
  • Novel methods for solid/liquid manure application
  • Pesticide spray optimization
  • PPP and fertilizers dose adjustment
  • Reduction of nitrogen losses in the environment
  • Remote sensing for precision PPP or fertilizers application
  • Sprayer airflow adjustment
  • Spray drift reducing technologies
  • Spray mixture variable rate application
  • Technologies allowing precision agriculture including sensors
  • Training programs to reduce the use of pesticides and the fertilization

Dr. Marco Grella
Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Stefano Gioelli
Dr. Paolo Marucco
Dr. Jordi Llop Casamada
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • airflow rate
  • ammonia
  • canopy density
  • crop protection
  • copper reduction
  • drift-reducing nozzle
  • dose
  • droplet size spectra
  • integrated crop management (ICM)
  • integrated pest management (IPM)
  • manure spreaders
  • modelling
  • nitrous oxide
  • nozzles
  • off-target losses
  • operator and bystander exposure
  • organic fertilizers
  • pesticide
  • pesticide application equipment
  • pollution from point sources
  • precision spraying
  • precision agriculture
  • prescription maps
  • rate controller
  • risk mitigation
  • sensors
  • Solid Set Canopy Delivery System (SSCDS)
  • spray coverage
  • spray deposition
  • spray drift
  • spray quality
  • spray uniformity
  • spray drift reducing technique (SDRT)
  • spraying equipment
  • system for online determination of nutrients in manure
  • variable rate application (VRA)
  • waste management
  • water sensitive papers (WSP)
  • training

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Drift Potential Characteristics of a Flat Fan Nozzle: A Numerical and Experimental Study
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(12), 6092; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12126092 - 15 Jun 2022
Viewed by 390
Abstract
This study explores the drift potential characteristics of a flat fan nozzle. The atomization and drift characteristics of fan-shaped pressure nozzles were studied at a spraying height of 0.6 m and a lateral wind speed of 0–6 m/s through a combination of computational [...] Read more.
This study explores the drift potential characteristics of a flat fan nozzle. The atomization and drift characteristics of fan-shaped pressure nozzles were studied at a spraying height of 0.6 m and a lateral wind speed of 0–6 m/s through a combination of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analyses and wind tunnel experiments. The nozzle Lu 120-03 had a spraying pressure of 0.3 MPa. The results show that as the wind speed varies from 0 m/s to 6 m/s, the spray droplet spectrum also changes, and the droplet volume medium diameter increases. The cumulative droplet ratio and droplet spectral width of M oscillate within certain ranges. The amount of spray drift increases at higher wind speeds. The concentration of droplet deposition on the bottom of the wind tunnel gradually spreads downward in the wind direction. The determination coefficient R2 of the straight-line fitting of the drift characteristics is 0.982, which is highly consistent with the CFD simulation results. A CFD simulation-assisted wind tunnel test method, which is more convenient and repeatable than traditional field tests, is proposed to analyze the droplet spectrum and drift of Lechler series nozzles. The program can accurately simulate the actual drift and provide theoretical and data support for the optimization of atomization and drift characteristics of several types of flat fan nozzles under different spraying pressures and crosswinds in practical applications. Full article
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Article
Performance of a Prototype Boom Sprayer for Bed-Grown Carrots Based on Canopy Deposition Optimization, Ground Losses and Spray Drift Potential Mitigation in Semi-Field Conditions
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(9), 4462; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12094462 - 28 Apr 2022
Viewed by 608
Abstract
The H2020-project OPTIMA concept of smart sprayer relies on several functionalities, including variable nozzle spacing for bed-grown carrots, based on an air-assisted boom sprayer. A prototype boom was designed and evaluated though canopy deposition, ground losses, and spray drift potential. Four bed spray [...] Read more.
The H2020-project OPTIMA concept of smart sprayer relies on several functionalities, including variable nozzle spacing for bed-grown carrots, based on an air-assisted boom sprayer. A prototype boom was designed and evaluated though canopy deposition, ground losses, and spray drift potential. Four bed spray configurations, including various nozzle types, angles, and sizes (XR8004, combination of AIUB8504/AI11004, AI8004, and XR8002) at the most appropriate nozzle spacing and height, were tested and compared to a broadcast application (XR11004). Deposition measurements were performed on carrots in bins at early and full-grown stages with respective target zone width of 1.4 m and 2.2 m. Spray drift potential measurements were performed following ISO 22401, 2015. The spray boom was equipped with an air sleeve providing different air speeds (0, 4, 8 m s−1). The relative depositions at both growth stages showed a significant effect of spray configuration and lowest values were found for the broadcast application. The configurations consisting of air inclusion nozzles generated the lowest drift potential compared to the broadcast application, although not significantly different. Bed spray configurations can thus improve canopy depositions and spray drift potential compared to a conventional broadcast application when the boom height and the nozzle spacing are adjusted to the growth stage. Full article
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Article
The Influence of Wetting Agent and Type of Nozzle on Copper Hydroxide Deposit on Sugar Beet Leaves (Beta vulgaris L.)
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(6), 2911; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12062911 - 11 Mar 2022
Viewed by 600
Abstract
Protective fungicides are sensitive to environmental conditions such as rainfall and solar radiation. Therefore, it is important to prolong the biological activity and fungicide resistance to the above-mentioned factors that can be achieved by adding a wetting agent to the working solution. Additionally, [...] Read more.
Protective fungicides are sensitive to environmental conditions such as rainfall and solar radiation. Therefore, it is important to prolong the biological activity and fungicide resistance to the above-mentioned factors that can be achieved by adding a wetting agent to the working solution. Additionally, the quality and efficiency of preventive contact fungicides significantly depend on the application technique. Thus, it is important to make the right choice of the nozzles and adjust the working parameters of the treatment. The aim of this work is to determine the influence of a wetting agent and type of nozzle on copper hydroxide (2 L ha−2) deposits on sugar beet leaves. Experiments are set up under laboratory and field conditions. A pinole-based wetting agent is applied at three rates (0.3, 0.6, and 1.0 L ha−1) and two types of nozzles are used (standard with flat jet and modern turbo-drop twin-jet). A brilliant blue tracer is added to a working solution to enable the measurement of copper hydroxide deposits. The deposit amount is recorded before and after the rain simulation (15 L m−2) with a spectrophotometer light beam. In order to ensure the timeliness of the application of fungicides, remote sensing of vegetative indices is used as an indicator of disease occurrence. The results indicated an increase in copper hydroxide deposits with the increase in wetting agent rates for both types of nozzles and in both laboratory and field experiments. Moreover, when applying the copper hydroxide mixtures with modern turbo drop nozzles, the increase in copper hydroxide deposit is significant, compared to the standard nozzles. Full article
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Article
Replacing Mineral Fertilisers for Bio-Based Fertilisers in Potato Growing on Sandy Soil: A Case Study
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(1), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12010341 - 30 Dec 2021
Viewed by 973
Abstract
The refinement level of bio-based fertilisers (BBFs) can influence environmental and agronomic performance. This study analyses the environmental and agronomic effect of different BBFs on potato growing in sandy soil. A less refined product (liquid fraction of digestate (LFD)), two refined products (ammonium [...] Read more.
The refinement level of bio-based fertilisers (BBFs) can influence environmental and agronomic performance. This study analyses the environmental and agronomic effect of different BBFs on potato growing in sandy soil. A less refined product (liquid fraction of digestate (LFD)), two refined products (ammonium sulphate (AS) and potassium concentrate (KC)), and mineral fertilizer (MF) are compared by conducting: (i) a nitrogen (N) incubation experiment where the N release rate of the BBFs is determined, (ii) a greenhouse gas emission experiment where N2O, CO2, and CH4 emissions after BBF application are measured, (iii) a pot experiment where the nutrient fertiliser replacement value (NFRV) of the BBF is calculated, and (iv) a full-scale field trial where the potato quality and quantity and the remaining N residues in the soil after harvest are assessed. The N release rate and the NFRV of AS (142 ± 19% and 1.13, respectively) was higher compared with the LFD (113 ± 24% and 1.04) and MF (105 ± 16% and 1.00). Lowest N2O emissions were observed after the application of the less refined product (0.02 ± 0.01 per 100 g N applied) and highest for MF urea (0.11 ± 0.02 per 100 g N applied). In the full-scale field trial, no significant difference in potato yield was observed in the plots that received manure in combination with BBF or MF. This study showed that all three BBFs can safely be used in potato growing on sandy soils. However, the adoption of BBFs can be stimulated by (i) solving the practical issues that occurred during the application of LFD, (ii) making sure BBFs are on the list of RENURE materials so they can legally replace mineral fertiliser, and (iii) reducing the surplus of slurry manure to stimulate the use and fair pricing of BBF products. Full article
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Article
Modelling Spray Pressure Effects on Droplet Size Distribution from Agricultural Nozzles
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(19), 9283; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11199283 - 06 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 523
Abstract
For spray applications, drop size is the most important feature as it affects all aspects of a phytosanitary treatment: biological efficacy, environmental pollution, and operator safety. In turn, drop size distribution depends on nozzle type, liquid properties, and working pressure. In this research, [...] Read more.
For spray applications, drop size is the most important feature as it affects all aspects of a phytosanitary treatment: biological efficacy, environmental pollution, and operator safety. In turn, drop size distribution depends on nozzle type, liquid properties, and working pressure. In this research, three nozzles were studied under ordinary working conditions and the effect of pressure on drop size distribution was assessed. The nozzles under test, all from Albuz (France), were an orange hollow cone nozzle ATR 80 (European color code), an air induction flat spray nozzle AVI 11003, and an air induction hollow cone nozzle TVI 8002. The ATR 80 and the TVI 8002 nozzles were tested at four pressure values: 0.3, 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 MPa; the AVI 11003 nozzle was tested at 0.3 and 0.5 MPa. The drop size measurement technique was based on the liquid immersion method by using a custom-made test bench; spray quality parameters were computed by means of suitable functions written in R language. Results showed that an increase in working pressure caused an increase in drop pulverization regardless of the type of nozzle, and drop pulverization was higher for the turbulence nozzle than for the two air induction nozzles. Based on skewness and kurtosis values, the theoretical gamma distribution was the most adapt to fit the experimental data. The scale parameter showed a decreasing trend with the increase in the pressure, a clear index of higher drop pulverization. Full article
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