Reducing Chemical Usage with Ultrasonic Sensors

Utilizing ultrasonic object detection sensors, the cutting-edge Sonic Spray attachment produced by farm equipment manufacturer Gillison’s Variety Fabrication, Inc. (GVF) can detect orchard trees and accurately controlling the application of sprayed materials.

Sonic Spray Growers Utilize 25% to 40% Less Spray Material

Simply by turning off the spray when no tree is present, the GVF Sonic Spray can reduce farmers’ costs by lowering the amount of spray material used. Sonic Spray leads to a reduction of material utilization by 25% to 40%, the exact amount of which is dependent on row spacing and tree size. It also allows a reduction of those unproductive trips to and from the sprayer just in order to refill. Developer of the Sonic Spray, Matt Gillison, commented, “Even small growers realize a return on investment in less than two years. There are very few agricultural investments that offer that kind of ROI and an environmental benefit as well.”

Ultrasonic Object Detection Sensors

The Sonic Spray utilizes six high-speed ToughSonic 50 ultrasonic sensors for detecting trees. The spray valves are activated or deactivated at precisely the right moment for treating the trees, but not the empty space between them.

See the Sonic Spray in action in this video:

As soon as a tree has undergone detections by one or more sensors, a signal is transmitted to the system controller. The sensor’s analog output is added to data on ground speed and operator inputs in order to control the spray valves. This output is also exhibited on the CAN display, allowing the operator to view what every sensor has detected. The operator possesses push-button control over the maximum distance to be measured by each sensor and which sensor and spray zones should be active. For instance, if the display shows that the sensors are detecting trees from the following row, the maximum detection distance can be lowered so these trees will be ignored.

GVF Chose Senix Ultrasonic Sensors

GVF collaborated with their distributor, J H Bennett, to choose the correct ultrasonic sensor technology for this special application. Senix ToughSonic sensors underwent a comprehensive series of tests alongside several competing products.

Easy Sensor Configuration

GVF utilized SenixVIEW configuration and analysis software as a means of adjusting ultrasonic sensors throughout product development and testing. “Being able to connect a laptop and fine tune system performance in the field definitely accelerated our product development process,” commented Matt Gillison. In a similar manner, the capacity to supply Sonic Spray operators with real-time, push-button command over sensor behavior substantially enhances productivity and control.

Sensor Networking and Synchronization

In order to inhibit them from receiving signals from one another, the synchronization of each of the six sensors was key. Utilizing the ToughSonic SYNCH feature and RS-485 serial output included with every Senix sensor, GVF could also adjust the on-board sensor array. Master and slave sensors are established and each one functions in total synchronicity with the others. A 50 millisecond quantification interval is adhered to as a way of detecting small branches even while moving at 3 mph to 4 mph.

Simultaneous Sensor Outputs

GVF required an ultrasonic sensor that could provide synchronous digital and serial outputs. The speed of RS-485 communications is harnessed as a means of enforcing this synchronicity between each of the six sensors, while the analog output supplies operator display data and system control. Senix ultrasonic sensors are unique in that they are able to supply multiple synchronous analog, serial and switch outputs.

Customer Service

Senix engineers collaborated with GVF and J H Bennett before and after the sale to get the system working fully. “We worked well with Senix to get this product up and running. [Ultrasonic sensor] durability has been good and the Sonic Spray has been performing very well in the field,” asserted Matt Gillison.

Farm-tough Ultrasonic Sensors

Furthermore, any sensor which has been installed on farm machinery needs to be sufficiently durable, rugged and weather-tight to withstand regular field usage.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Senix Corporation.

For more information on this source, please visit Senix Corporation.

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