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The pulse width modulation (PWM) spray system is the most advanced technology to obtain variable rate spray application without varying the operative sprayer parameters (e.g. spray pressure, nozzle size). According to the precision agriculture principles, PWM is the prime technology that allows to spray the required amount where needed without varying the droplet size spectra which benefits both the uniformity of spray quality and the spray drift reduction. However, some concerns related to the effect of on–off solenoid valves and the alternating on/off action of adjacent nozzles on final uneven spray coverage (SC) have arisen. Further evaluations of PWM systems used for spraying 3D crops under field conditions are welcomed. A tower-shaped airblast sprayer equipped with a PWM was tested in a vineyard. Twelve configurations, combining duty cycles (DC: 30, 50, 70, 100%) and forward speeds (FS: 4, 6, 8 km h−1), were tested. Two methodologies, namely fieldstandardized and real field conditions, were adopted to evaluate the effect of DC and FS on (1) SC variability (CV%) along both the sprayer travel direction and the vertical spray profile using long water sensitive papers (WSP), and (2) SC uniformity (IU, index value) within the canopy at different depths and heights, respectively. Furthermore, the SC (%) and deposit density (Nst, no stains cm−2), determined using short WSP, were used to evaluate the spray application performances taking into account the spray volumes applied. Under field-controlled conditions, the pulsing of the PWM system affects both the SC variability measured along the sprayer travel direction and along the vertical spray profile. In contrast, under real field conditions, the PWM system does not affect the uniformity of SC measured within the canopy. The relationship between SC and Nst allowed identification of the ranges of 200–250 and 300–370 l ha−1 as the most suitable spray volumes to be applied for insecticide and fungicide plant protection products, respectively.
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