Improving efficiency of chemical processing in strip-tilled row crops

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When growing crop products, it is important to use an integrated approach at the stages of planning technological operations and developing technical means for their implementation. In this case, the best result is achieved when coordinating operations on mechanical and chemical tillage, which provides for the protection and nutrition of plants. Along with this, it is important to consider following the applied technology to environmental principles, since agriculture directly affects the environment of our planet. Resource-saving technologies help preserve nature for future generations, restore natural fertility and take care of economic well-being. For row crops, the use of Strip-till technology is recommended. This requires 20...30% of all costs to direct to chemical treatment. Obviously, a decrease in the chemical effect on the soil during the transition to strip technology is necessary, and the introduced chemical should be redirected strictly to the target. A technical solution for the adaptation of serial sprayers is proposed, which consists of the use of strip spraying with the ability to accurately add and redistribute the working solution to the objects of influence, considering stage of plant development. This allows to reduce hectare application rates and stress of cultivated plants, and to save money on chemical processing. In addition, it also helps to solve environmental problems by reducing the chemical load on the soil. The proposed approach and technical solution make it possible to supplement the complex of machines for mechanical tillage in the framework of strip technology and reduce the chemical load on the biosphere.

Introduction At the present stage of agriculture development, chemical treatment of plants is included in any technology. To ensure the high efficiency of the use of chemicals for plant protection and nutrition in combination with minimizing environmental damage, modern manufacturers select and implement new technologies based on resource saving, as well as modern equipment for performing technological operations [1, 2]. One of these technologies, which allows to maintain the sustainable development of agriculture and to form an ecological culture, is the resource-saving Strip-till technology, which is especially suitable for row crops [3]. Recently, scientifical interest has been increasing in assessing the effectiveness of this technology and its technical means [4, 5]. This technology provides tillage strictly in strips for the subsequent creation of favorable conditions for growth and development of crops. In the interval between the treated strips, such conditions are not cultivated; so weeds, being in the worst conditions, begin to lag behind in development, and then completely die, oppressed by cultivated plants [6]. This approach to the operation of mechanical tillage helps in solving environmental problems; it reduces the damaging effect on the soil, helps to restore its fertility, reduces water and wind erosion, and at the same time it has a beneficial effect on the climate of our planet [7, 8]. Purpose of the study was to improve efficiency of technological process of chemical treatment of row crops due to redistribution of the operating solution in strips and to reduce chemical load on soil. Materials and methods The most effective plant protection operations are carried out by liquid solutions. Spraying is the main method of introducing liquid solutions of CPA (crop protection agents) and UAN (aqueous solution of ammonium nitrate and urea). The advantage of using liquid chemical solutions is the rational impact on leaf and root systems of plant [1, 9]. Having analyzed the structure of application of spraying technological processes using the example of a sunflower row crop, we can conclude that it is recommended that the soil herbicide and means of protection against diseases, weeds and pests be applied by continuous spraying method, leaf dressing and desiccation operations - directly on the object of exposure. Therefore, theoretical rationale of the technological process of chemical treatment of plants, depending on plant growth stage and species, becomes central to this study [10, 11]. Sprayers for continuous application of chemicals, common in traditional crop cultivation technology, do not correspond to the basics of strip technology. Undoubtedly, they have a number of advantages: relative simplicity of design, high maneuverability, large operation width, high productivity, but the following disadvantages are noted: significant drift of the sprayed liquid by the wind, high uneven distribution of the chemical substance along the operation width, significant influence of meteorological conditions on the operation width and undesirable drift of the sprayed liquid beyond the boundaries of the treated area. The efficiency of spraying process is evaluated by area and uniformity of coating with active chemical substance. In addition, optimal terms (relevance of adhering to timing of making is justified by sensitivity of processed object in accordance with phase of its development) and quality of coating of the processed object have a significant impact. Therefore, to increase efficiency of chemical treatment, it is necessary to improve not only the methods of introducing operation solution, but also the design features of spray system [10, 12]. Serial models of boom sprayers perform technological process of continuous spraying (Fig. 1). These types of sprayers are not suitable for the Strip-till technology, since the main emphasis in the technology is soil and plant treatment in strips [11, 13]. Agricultural producers are forced to use boom sprayers violating the technology due to the fact that there are no machines for chemical and fertilizer application that process in strips. The task is to improve well-known technological process and design of the sprayer with possibility of spraying it on growth bands of crops or rows between weeds. When processing crops, it is important to redirect working solutions to the target objects considering current pathogenic situation in a specific field or culture and development phase (Fig. 2). Fig. 1. Technological process of continuous spraying Fig. 2. Band spraying process The technical solution is retrofitting of a serial boom sprayer with two lines with possibility of spraying nozzles in strips. Moreover, after improving design, the sprayer becomes universal for use with various technologies. When continuous processing is required, both lines are switched on. In the case of strip cultivation of row crops, the main line is switched on, which allows redistributing the working solution with the formation of a new stream that processes the object of influence strictly in strips. Results and discussion The choice of nozzles with a large spray angle makes it possible to reduce distance from tops of plant to nebulizers. However, this causes an increase in unevenness of width of the treated strip with vertical oscillations of the sprayer boom. When nozzles are placed with a spray angle of 80° above the soil surface at a distance of 800 mm, the treated strip will take sizes from 1331 to 829 mm depending on the fluctuations of the boom, up to 300 mm (Fig. 3, a). a b c Fig. 3. Changing width of sprayer treated strip: a - for a serial sprayer; b - for an advanced sprayer (a spray cone angle of 65°); c - for an advanced sprayer (a spray cone angle of 80°) When installing nozzles with a spray angle of 65°, a change in the width of the treated strip from 1018 to 634 mm is observed. This means that dimensions of the treated strip are subject to significant fluctuations - up to 38%. When choosing a nozzle with a spray angle of 80°, covering of the upper part of the plant improves, and the distance between tops of the plant and the boom can be reduced, but irregularity in the chemical application increases and leads to undesirable waste and harm to the environment. In this regard, technological process of introducing chemicals requires significant improvement in redistribution of operation solution within the band. The application of the proposed technological approach makes it possible to accurately redistribute operation solution with active substance and reduce hectare norms while maintaining application rate for objects. A differentiated approach to introduction of chemicals in agriculture also makes it possible to reduce stressful effects on crops. This side spray method converts streams from each nozzle when they merge into a new stream with more stable parameters. This means that the proposed method allows formation of operation solution flow with constant density practically eliminating the influence of boom vertical oscillations. The proposed technical solution makes it possible to quickly switch between spray gun housings, facilitating readjustment between continuous and strip spraying. The economic effect is achieved by redistributing the working solutions in strips, concentration of operation solution at the site of exposure and minimization of unproductive losses for solution density in rod vertical vibrations. Monitoring of technological problem of strip spraying showed that when row crop cultivated area was about 900 thousand hectares in the Volgograd Region and prescribed standard annual load per sprayer was 360 ha/year, more than 2.5 thousand modernized sprayers could be claimed for chemical treatment of plants with the most efficient and rational methods in this region. The solution to this problem seems feasible for the assembly production located in the Volgograd region within the framework of a cooperation agreement between Volgograd State Agricultural University and French holding company EXEL Industries. Adapting sprayers for effective use in strip farming agricultural technologies began in 2018. Conclusions The application of the strip chemical processing method allows to reduce chemical application rate per hectare without reducing norm and quality compared to continuous processing. The proposed method of strip chemical treatment of soil and plants has good prospects for use in agriculture saving costs and solving environmental problems, and pre-equipped serial sprayers of rod type complement complex of machines for strip processing. Quick readjustment of serial sprayers allows to save time and money for new equipment. According to theoretical calculations based on the data obtained in laboratory conditions, a decrease in consumption of operation solution will be 31.4% and 38.9%, when processing crops with a row spacing of 0.7 m and 0.9 m, respectively. We recommend to choose slotted injection sprayers and sprayers with a hollow cone for strip herbicide application.

Marina V Meznikova

Volgograd State Agricultural University

Author for correspondence.
Volgograd, Russia

Associate Professor, Department of Life Safety

Ivan B Borisenko

Volgograd State Agricultural University

Volgograd, Russia

Doctor of Technical Sciences, Senior Researcher, Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Chemistry

Ekaterina I Ulybina

Frolovo Industrial and Economic College

Volgograd region, Russia


Olga V Boyarkina

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Moscow, Russia

Technician, Laboratory for Experimental Remote Sensing and Monitoring of Land Resources

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Copyright (c) 2019 Meznikova M.V., Borisenko I.B., Ulybina E.I., Boyarkina O.V.

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