The January Pests and Progress webinar featured three apple experts who have been working to find ways to help apple growers manage insects and diseases while minimizing costs. Speakers included Mark Gleason, professor and plant pathologist, Iowa State University; Melanie Ivey, associate professor, The Ohio State University and Olivia Meyer, graduate student at Iowa State University.
The first half of this special one-hour webinar focused on the intelligent sprayer, which uses LiDAR to detect apple trees and the density of branches so the spray nozzles can automatically adjust. This technology also allows you to collect additional data and make adjustments when needed. Another addition to the smart sprayer is special nozzles. They are called pulse width modulation valves and can turn on and off very quickly based on the LiDAR data. Research data collected in Iowa and Ohio confirmed that the smart sprayer used less pesticide by focusing spray directly on trees, rather than treating the entire orchard like a traditional sprayer. The smart sprayer also has less drift and saves time because the spray can be refilled less frequently. Pest and disease control had consistent results with both sprayers. More details about the sprayer are available on the Smarter Spraying for Apples website.
The intelligent sprayer is an expensive tool, but the speakers estimate that using this sprayer in a large orchard would lead to cost savings by year three. More economic data will be available soon.
The second half of this webinar focused on warning systems to help identify when management is needed. Costs can be reduced by treating only when pest threats are high. The Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) can be used to predict diseases, apple thinning and irrigation, and insect pests. The NEWA disease models include fire blight, sooty blotch, flyspeck and apple scab. The models use weather data along with other variables, such as whether your farm has had the disease before, to calculate current risk. Results are color coded and easy to interpret. NEWA is available to individual subscribers.