Evaluation of spray pattern uniformity using three unique analyses as impacted by nozzle, pressure, and pulse-width modulation duty cycle

Thomas R. Butts, Joe D. Luck, Bradley K. Fritz, W. Clint Hoffmann, Greg R. Kruger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The increasing popularity of pulse-width modulation (PWM) sprayers requires that application interaction effects on spray pattern uniformity be completely understood to maintain a uniform overlap of spray, thereby reducing crop injury potential and maximizing coverage on target pests. The objective of this research was to determine the impacts of nozzle type (venturi vs. non-venturi), boom pressure, and PWM duty cycle on spray pattern uniformity. Research was conducted using an indoor spray patternator located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln, NE, USA. Coefficient of variation (CV), root mean square error (RMSE), and average percent error (APE) were used to characterize spray pattern uniformity. RESULTS: Generally, across nozzles and pressures, the duty cycle minimally impacted the CV of spray patterns. However, across nozzles and duty cycles, increasing pressure decreased CV values, resulting in more uniform spray patterns. The RMSE values typically increased as pressure and duty cycle increased across nozzles. This may be the result of a correlation between RMSE values and flow rate as RMSE values also increased as nozzle orifice size increased. Generally, APE increased as the duty cycle decreased across nozzles and pressures with significant increases (40%) caused by the 20% duty cycle. Within non-venturi nozzles, increasing pressure reduced APE across duty cycles, while venturi nozzles followed no such trend. CONCLUSION: Overall, results suggest PWM duty cycles at or above 40% minimally impact spray pattern uniformity. Further, increased application pressures and the use of non-venturi nozzles on PWM sprayers increase the precision and uniformity of spray applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1875-1886
Number of pages12
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • application technology
  • average percent error
  • coefficient of variation
  • pesticide application optimization
  • root mean square error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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