Volume application rate adapted to the canopy size in greenhouse tomato crops

The application rate of plant-protection products is indicated as a concentration or amount of product per area. Greenhouse crops grow swiftly, and an application rate based on a fixed amount of product per hectare can result either in large losses and overdoses when the plants are small or to be insufficient when the plants are fully developed. To solve these problems, the application rates of plant-protection products need to be adapted to the plant mass present in the greenhouse when the spray is applied. Two models were developed to estimate the leaf area based on easily measured geometric data of the vegetation in a greenhouse tomato crop. The model based on the PRV (Plant Row Volume) had that best results. The calculation of the volume application rate from the PRV has resulted in a reduction of more than 30 % of the quantity of plant protection product sprayed, without decreasing yield. The PRV of a greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) is an easily measured parameter that enables the estimation of the leaf area index and the use of application strategies adapted to the changes in the plant canopy, saving major amounts of plant protection product used, compared to the conventional system.

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