Reducing pesticide over-application with map-based automatic boom section control on agricultural sprayers

J. D. Luck, R. S. Zandonadi, B. D. Luck, S. A. Shearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The use of precision agriculture technologies such as automatic guidance and map-based automatic boom section control on agricultural sprayers has increased substantially over the past few years. The purpose of these systems is to decrease pesticide application inaccuracy by reducing pass-to-pass overlaps or by turning boom sections off when the boom passes over previously covered areas or beyond field boundaries. The objectives of this study were to compare areas treated by a sprayer before and after the addition of an automatic boom section control system and determine if there was a relationship between field shape factors, specifically perimeter-to-area (P/A) ratio, and pesticide over-application. Coverage files were downloaded from a self-propelled agricultural sprayer with a 24.8 m boom divided into five manually controlled sections. Prior to the subsequent cropping season, automatic boom section control (seven sections) was installed on the sprayer. Application inaccuracy was calculated for the 21 study fields by comparing the actual sprayed area (based on boom section control state: on/off) versus the total projected field area. A comparison between the average percent over-application from fields during season one (12.4%) and season two (6.2%) revealed a significant reduction in off-target application. This reduction represents savings to agricultural producers, potentially justifying the purchase and implementation of this technology. Further analysis indicated an increasing trend in over-application for manual and automatic boom section control as the P/A ratio increased for the study fields. Over-application increased at a greater rate with manual boom section control, which suggests that as field inclusions (grassed waterways or other obstacles) increase, automatic boom section control will provide a greater opportunity for producers to reduce these errors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-690
Number of pages6
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical application
  • GPS
  • Off-target application
  • Precision agriculture
  • Spray overlap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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