Main national projects

Drone in vigneto

PRIN 2022 PNRR announcement, Project "3E-UAVspray - Operative solutions for efficient, effective and environmental-friendly UAV-spray applications in vineyards".
Project code "P2022SS9TF" CUP "D53D23022050001"
Funded by the European Union - Next Generation EU

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the European Union (EU) regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for pesticide application technology. This interest stems from the strategic potential of UAVs, particularly in steep slope vineyards where conventional pesticide applications are carried out manually (e.g., knapsack sprayers, hand-held lances) or, where feasible, with ground-based sprayers. These conventional methods pose risks to both operators, due to high exposure to pesticides, and the environment.

Given the challenges associated with conventional techniques in difficult landscape scenarios and farmers’ increasing interest in UAVs as an alternative, it is crucial to define and optimize specific UAV operations and configurations to effectively and efficiently utilize this technology. While previous activities related to UAV pesticide applications in vineyards have been documented in the literature, there remains limited information on the biological efficacy of these systems in viticulture.

In response to this need, the 3E-UAVspray project, led by Torino University  and involving DISAFA – Agricultural Engineering under the supervision of Marco Grella, as well as two departments of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore – Piacenza branch (DISTAS – Area Chimica and DIPROVES – Area Difesa) under the supervision of Nicoleta Alina Suciu, aims to explore and define the optimal spray program for UAV application in vineyards located in steep slope landscapes. Through a holistic approach, the project seeks to address key challenges and optimize pesticide application techniques using UAVs to ensure effective and environmentally sustainable pest management practices in viticulture.

DANTE: Valutazione dell'efficacia dei Droni per il monitoraggio e la difesA della vite dall'iNsetto di quarantTena prioritario popilia japonica nEwmann
(Evaluation of the effectiveness of drones for monitoring and defense of vineyards against the insect Popilia japonica Newman)

Two-year project funded by the Piemonte Region  and coordinated by the Polytechnic University of Torino with partners, the Consorzio di Tutela Nebbioli dell’alto Piemonte  (CTNAP) and DISAFA of the University of Torino.

Among the activities planned in the project are:

– Multi-temporal monitoring of insect density using drones and verification through manual field acquisition;
– Localized distribution using drones (and comparison with traditional distribution with air-assisted sprayer).

NOVIAGRI: New Applications Of Vegetation Indexes in AGRIculture.

A three-year project funded by the Piemonte Region (Action 2, Operation 16.1.1) in common with colleagues in the mechatronics working group and led by the Consorzio di tutela Barbera d’Asti e vini del Monferrato.

The main goals are:

  • Realization of a prototype sprayer machine with automatic distribution management;
  • Implementation of a smartphone App that will provide information for the best setting of the sprayer machine;
  • Definition of a DSS (Decision Support System) to recognize infected plants in the vineyard

By clicking on the image below you will be redirected to the official website of the project (managed by the lead partner) where all updates on the same will be reported from time to time.

An article introducing the project can be found at this link.

Design and development of prototypes

Here are some of the prototypes and innovative distribution systems that the Crop Protection Technology Research Group, in collaboration with sprayer and component manufacturers, has designed and developed over the years:

  • Electronic direct pesticide injection system for sprayer booms (in cooperation with Unigreen spa);
  • sprayer able to adjust distribution to the size and vegetative characteristics of the vineyard (in collaboration with Cima spa);
  • sprayer able to adjust spraying according to the slope of the ground (in collaboration with Dragone Ltd.);
  • sprayer able to adjust spraying according to the presence and size of the plant to be treated (European project ISAFRUIT);
  • GPS-controlled automatic system able to optime headland distribution (in collaboration with 3B6);
  • prototype of an air assisted sprayer able to spraying actinidia trees raised in double arbor by directly spraying the under crown as well (in collaboration with Nobili spa);
  • device for optimizing the airflow produced by axial fans (in collaboration with Nobili spa);
  • prototypes of self-propelled sprayers for the distribution of plant protection products to protected crops with the operator always outside the tunnel or greenhouse (in collaboration with Unigreen spa and Abbà snc);
  • operating machine for mechanical (between plants or stakes) and chemical (at the plant) weeding in the vineyard sub-row (in cooperation with Dragone Ltd);
  • Transportable test benches for adjustment of sprayers in use (in cooperation with AAMS Salvarani);
  • test bench for evaluation of potential drift produced by sprayer booms and  throw of air assisted sprayers (in collaboration with AAMS Salvarani);
  • Development of a simple, effective and sustainable system for managing wastewater from phytosanitary treatment (in collaboration with Ecomembrane srl and Up to Farm srl);
  • Development of a pneumatic pulverization system with an anti-drift dispenser (in collaboration with Cima spa);
  • Prototype vineyard machine for mechanical control of Popilia japonica (in collaboration with Dragone srl);
  • Development of a “smart sprayer” integrated into a DSS system + system for early disease diagnosis + synthetic and biological plant protection products (in collaboration with Caffini spa – European LIFE project “OPTIMA“).

Prototype Gallery

Basic research and field experimentation

These activities are financed by both Public Entities (Region, MUR, etc.) and Private Parties through consulting contracts (manufacturers of sprayers and components, manufacturers of plant protection products, etc.) and concern in particular:

  • Improving the distribution of plant protection products to herbaceous and tree crops and in a protected environment with special reference to the correct choice of operating parameters (distribution volume, forward speed, speed of the air current generated by the fan, etc.)
  • Drift reduction solutions;
  • safety of the operator and the environment and bystanders;
  • Proper management of wastewater from phytosanitary treatments (wash water from the sprayer machine and empty containers, residue in the tank at the end of treatment, etc.);
  • Chemical and mechanical weed control in tree crops
  • individuazione della dimensione delle gocce prodotte da differenti tipologie di ugelli e diffusori pneumatici impiegati sulla macchine irroratrici o su altri sistemi di distribuzione di miscele liquide;
  • Verification of the relationship between distribution volume and Leaf Wall Area in the vineyard;
  • Checking the distribution of the sprayed mixture between target, ground leakage and leakage beyond the row (spray mass balance);
  • valutazione di differenti soluzioni tecniche per la riduzione della dispersione delle polvere di concia da parte delle seminatrici pneumatiche;
  • Evaluation of different modes of external washing of spray machines (type of lance, pressure, type of detergent)
  • Wear evaluation of different types of nozzles.
  • Testing the possibility of using drones for the distribution of plant protection products in the vineyard (in collaboration with colleagues in the Agricultural Mechatronics Research Group).

Field experimentation gallery

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