UAV spraying on citrus crop: impact of tank-mix adjuvant on the contact angle and droplet distribution

Yanhua Meng*, Wanqiang Zhong, Cunjia Liu, Jinya Su, Jiyuan Su, Yubin Lan, Zhiguo Wang, Meimei Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Adding tank-mix adjuvants into the spray mixture is a common practice to improve droplet distribution for field crops (e.g., rice, wheat, corn, etc.) when using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) sprayers. However, the effectiveness of tank-mix adjuvant for UAV spraying in orchard crops is still an open problem, considering their special canopy structure and leaf features. This study aims to evaluate the effects of a typical tank-mix adjuvant concentrations (i.e., Nong Jian Fei (NJF)) on Contact Angle (CA) and droplet distribution in the citrus tree canopy. Three commonly used parameters, namely dynamic CA, droplet coverage, and Volume Median Diameter (VMD), are adopted for performance evaluation. The dynamic CAs on the adaxial surface of citrus leaves, for water-only and NJF-presence sprays, respectively, are measured with five concentration levels, where three replications are performed for each concentration. The sprays with 0.5 parts per thousand NJF are adopted in the field experiment for evaluating droplet distributions, where Water Sensitive Papers (WSPs) are used as collectors. Two multi-rotor UAVs (DJI T20 and T30) which consist of different sizes of pesticide tanks and rotor diameters are used as the spraying platforms. Both water-only and NJF-presence treatments are conducted for the two UAVs, respectively. The results of the CA experiment show that NJF addition can significantly reduce the CAs of the sprays. The sprays with 0.5 parts per thousand NJF obtain the lowest CA within the observing time, suggesting a better spread ability on solid surface (e.g., WSPs or/and leaves). With respect to the effects of NJF addition on individual UAVs, the field trial results indicate that NJF addition can remarkably increase both the droplet coverage and VMD at three canopy layers, except for T30 droplet coverage of the inside and bottom layers. Comparing the difference of droplet coverage between two UAVs, while significant difference is found in the same layer before NJF addition, there is no notable difference appearing in the outside and bottom layers after NJF addition. The difference of VMD in the same layer between two UAVs is not affected by NJF addition except for the bottom layer. These results imply that the differences of droplet coverage among different UAVs might be mitigated, thus the droplet distribution of some UAVs could be improved by adding a tank-mix adjuvant into the sprays. This hypothesis is verified by investigating the droplet penetration and the correlation coefficient (CC) of droplet coverage and VMD. After NJF addition, the total percentage of T20 droplet coverage in the bottom and inside layers is increased by 5%. For both UAVs, the CCs indicate that both droplet coverage and VMD increase at the same time in most cases after NJF addition. In conclusion, the addition of a tank-mix adjuvant with the ability to reduce CA of the sprays, can effectively improve droplet distribution using UAV spraying in the citrus canopy by increasing droplet coverage and VMD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13064
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note


This research was funded by ‘2021 Anyang Science and Technology Project’ (Project No. 2021C01NY037), ‘Henan Science and Technology Project’ (Project No. 202102110114), ‘UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) under Newton fund (Project No. ST/V00137X/1)’, ‘Royal Society funding (Project No. IEC\NSFC\191320)’, and ‘Talent introduction project of high-end foreign experts in Henan Province’ (Project No. HNGD2021019). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Special thanks to Mr. Haixiong Chen from DJI company for the support on providing and operating the UAVs during the field experiments.

Data Availability Statement

The following information was supplied regarding data availability:
The raw measurements are available in the Supplemental Files.


  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
  • Tank-mix adjuvant
  • Contact angle
  • Citrus
  • Droplet distribution


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