OptiSave – The intelligent gap switch for sprayers


In fruit growing, applying plant protection products safeguards both yield and product quality. As these protection products are very expensive, we offer a solution that allows you to save costs and regulate their application.

Our modular system, OPTISAVE, has a number of optical sensors, which are able to recognise small gaps in the foliage. These occurrences are recognised by the system and the corresponding nozzles are individually controlled. A reliable gap recognition system is based on the accurate recognition of small objects (branches). A branch with a diameter of 8 mm can be recognised at a maximum speed of 11 km/h and a distance from the sprayer of max. 3.5 metres depth. The corresponding nozzle opens selectively at the right time so that only the recognised branch is
sprayed. The OPTISAVE system can be retrofitted without difficulty to conventional fruit spraying machines. It is possible to fit up to 20 optical IRS02 sensors to each side of the sprayer using a sensor pole. All data are evaluated by a micro controller and its control unit and can be viewed in detail on the operator terminal.

The Control Unit
This consists of the controller, operating terminal and console. The entire sensor system is connected via an interface to the SPG20 control module. This control module contains all of the electronics. All nozzles are switched on and off via a high-speed bus via a corresponding interface together with power electronics. The controller has additional connectivity options for the respective sensors, including wheel sensors, pressure sensor, volume sensor, optical sensors etc. A corresponding software programme enables the automatic activation of the valves when turning into a new row of trees or when leaving the row.

Optical Sensor
After a long period of development and tests, one sensor together with an optical unit for object recognition was developed. Within a range of 3.5 metres, objects with a diameter of 8 mm
can be recognised and evaluated at a speed of travel of up to 11 km/h. The sensor is fitted inside a robust housing, which is protected against spray
in accordance with IP64. The sensor is attached to the sensor pole via a large plastic nut and the connection to the evaluation unit is via a screwable plug-connection.

The Operating Console
This enables quick access to the most important switching operations. Especially common boom section switching operations and other special functions can be carried out with the help of a joystick. Every key / switch can be assigned a function of your choice in the terminal’s configuration menu. The connection to the operating terminal is wireless via Bluetooth.

The Operating Terminal
The 8” colour display on the operating terminal shows all of the important data needed for operating the sprayer, such as the current pressure, speed of travel and tank content values. The terminal shows all functions in graphical form and all of the inputs for operating the system are undertaken here. The intuitive menu navigation makes it possible to configure and/or input the individual data relative to spraying operations. The number of available sensors and/or every optical sensor can be assigned to a valve in the configuration menu. The majority of the displays are configurable. Another highlight is the exchange of data from
Optisave with the software programme on the PC (via wireless internet or mobile network). The GPS positioning system helps the user to automatically identify the parcels of land entered and to activate the associated sprayer programme. In addition it is possible to trace data back at a later date. Updates can always be downloaded via the internet.

The Software
Alongside the countless possibilities, the software programme offers various operating modes, which can be selected via spraying programmes. There is an automatic, speed-dependent pressure regulation option available for independent, simple use of the sprayer without having to enter additional parameters. For the semi-automatic mode the software allows for a limited input of operating parameters, which enable a more precise regulation of the desired application rate. In contrast to fully-automatic mode, no master data such as parcels of land, row widths etc. need to be entered. The fully-automatic mode builds on the input of master data, which can be entered once and retrieved as required.

Technical Data
- The system can be retrofitted and is freely configurable
- Maximum number of sensors: 20 + 20
- Maximum number of switchable nozzles: 20 + 20
- Diameter of optical sensor: 75 mm
- Object recognition range: 3.5 m depth
- Maximum speed of travel with gap recognition: 11 km/h
- Operating terminal with 8” display
- Operating console with 4-way joystick and 6 configurable buttons
- Max. two TMX10 interface modules for controlling a maximum of 10 valves
- Max. two modular AMX10 interface modules for connecting a maximum of 10 optical sensors

The project is supported (was supported) by funds of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) based on a decision of the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany via the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) under the innovation support programme.