Application Strategies Offer Ways to Cut Orchard Pesticide Use

Researchers at Iowa State University, The Ohio State University, and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) partnered to find ways to make apple-orchard pesticide applications effective while causing the least harm to the environment. They found that a targeted spraying method that used laser beams and sensors to detect foliage could reduce overall pesticide use by 30-70%. In addition, using a weather-based warning system that measures the number of hours that humidity is over 90% in the orchard helped indicate the appropriate times to use fungicide. This cut fungicide applications by 25%. The research project involved on-farm demonstration trials, and has produced a website, blog posts, podcasts, and short videos to share research results.