September 21, 2018 | Pullman, WA
Biological Systems Engineering Faculty Lav Khot and Manoj Karkee received Washington State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Awards.
Lav Khot’s project titled “Alternative pest management technologies for tree fruit and wine grapes” was awarded $249,088.
Abstract: This WSU team, with agricultural engineering, viticulture, plant pathology and entomology expertise, will investigate use of horticultural oil thermotherapy (HOT) and ozonated water sprayer (OWS) applications for effective control of indicator pest and disease species in pear and wine grapes. Both are novel ways to transform commonly-accepted low-risk materials (oil, ozonated water) for improved pest and disease control with minimal chemical residue levels needed for export market. Our project aligns with environmental stewardship goals of using methodologies and products that have minimal off-target impacts and reduced chemical inputs. It bolsters available toolkit for organic pest management, while being equally viable in conventional and IPM-based programs .Our specific project objectives are:(1)to transform our existing laboratory-scale HOT sprayer into a field-appropriate prototype and optimization for pear psyllid, and grape mealybug and powdery mildew control;(2) to evaluate a commercially available OWS to control the above indicator pest and disease species; and (3) to engage local manufacturers to build and distribute these technologies as well as conduct extensive Extension to increase the rate of technology adoption. Objective 1 activities include:(i) HOT sprayer prototyping, (ii) evaluate its application accuracy within different canopy regions of trellised grape and large pear canopies, and (iii) assess control of indicator pest and disease species through field trials. Objective 2 activities include:(i) optimization of OWS, and (ii) bioassay-based mortality assessments with field evaluations. Objective 3 activities will focus on early engagement with growers and equipment manufacturers for meaningful outreach education of field optimized technologies.
Manoj Karkee’s project titled ” Precise Mechanical Solution for Vineyard Shoot Thinning” was awarded $195,232.
Abstract: This proposal is submitted by Washington State University. We propose to develop an automated solution for green shoot thinning in wine grapes. Currently, there is about 55,000 acres of wine grapes and about 900 licensed wineries in Washington with ~$5 billion economic impact to the state. Green shoot thinning, an operation to remove some of the shoots from vine cordons, is used to improve spacing and direction of shoot growth, which is essential to create healthy and productive canopies as it improves light penetration and air movement in the canopies. This operation is highly labor-intensive, costing growers >$265/acre/year. Machine thinning can reduce the cost to about ~$10/acre. However, currently available shoot thinners lack desired level of precision and speed, and require skilled operators. Our goal is to develop an automated system for precise positioning of thinning heads of a mechanical thinner. To achieve this goal, we will focus on developing; i) a machine vision system to estimate cordon/trunk location and shoot density; ii) a prototype, pneumatic shoot thinner capable of quickly adjusting thinning roller position for precise removal of target shoots; and iii) an integrated, automated thinning machine and evaluate it in the vineyard environment. By the end of the project, it is expected that our prototype and field validation study will provide sufficient data and information for companies to develop and commercialize the machine. Commercial adoption of this technology will reduce farm labor use and production cost, resulting in a substantial benefit to Washington wine grape industry.
Read More on the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Ag Briefs Page and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Awards Abstract Page.