Precision Spraying Just Became More Precise

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This article originally appeared in the November 2020 issue of CropLife magazine.

The Hawkeye 2 Nozzle Control System adds individual nozzle control and increased flow for better accuracy.

By Robin Siktberg, Custom Content Editor, Meister Media Worldwide

One-hundred-percent accuracy in product application is the Holy Grail in sprayer technology. It’s not likely it will ever be fully achieved. However, engineers at Raven Applied Technology just got closer with the introduction of Hawkeye® 2 Nozzle Control System. An update on Raven’s original Hawkeye Nozzle Control System, Hawkeye 2 provides increased flow and operating pressure, as well as the size system it can support. Individual nozzle control along with turn compensation eliminates skips, overlaps, and application errors. The additional features make Hawkeye 2 even more accurate than the original Hawkeye system, and 2.5 times more precise than similar systems in the market. Hawkeye 2 earned validation from the prestigious European testing organization, Julius Kuhn-Institut.

Individual nozzle control provides optimum accuracy, eliminating skips, overlaps, and application errors.

“We listened to customer feedback and took an already well-received product and made it better,” says Dominic Walkes, Director of Product Management at Raven Applied Technology. We increased the flow, pressure, and the types of machines it can be used on. We improved the precision of Hawkeye significantly as well as the durability and the ability to diagnose problems and do routine maintenance. We took an already great system and improved it on a host of different fronts.”

Increasing the flow allows a wider range of application rates. It also allowed for an increased number of nozzles on the spray boom. Nozzles can be placed closer together or booms can be made longer.

“We had customers who used the Hawkeye system primarily, but sometimes they had to switch back to a conventional spraying system based on the rates they needed,” Walkes says. “We worked to enable our technology to be used in an even broader set of applications by increasing the flow, and being able to increase the number of nozzles on a boom improves accuracy. It’s also incredibly advantageous as manufacturers continue to push the physical limits of the length of booms to 130 feet or further.”

Users who tested Hawkeye 2 in their own operation are seeing increased efficiencies in a number of ways. The increased accuracy reduces input costs and increases efficacy of the applied product. Features such as turn compensation allow operators to perform complex applications with less stress and more consistency across the boom — and reduces operator fatigue.

Both Hawkeye 2 and its predecessor have smart nozzles that intuitively spray at the correct rate in a consistent pattern, no matter the variables at play in the field. The technology works together seamlessly with Raven’s platform of other services to integrate boom height, rate control and speed. A display with a task controller such as Raven Viper® 4 or CR7 brings it all together along with additional data such as machine guidance, swath coverage, and a weather condition reader. But a Raven display isn’t a requirement, Walkes says, because the Hawkeye Nozzle Control System offers ISOBUS capabilities, meaning it can work with nearly any machine on the market.

“Hawkeye 2 can work very well with a number of third-party task controllers,” Walkes says. “We have a broad range of kits available, and that’s an ever-expanding list. The experience is more integrated with our Viper 4, allowing for the highest level of precision and flexibility, but if you already are using another brand and it has ISOBUS capability, it’s not an issue.”

Individual nozzle control is provides big benefits by reducing redundancies, which in turn reduces overapplication and input costs. Conversely, it improves accuracy by reducing the potential for skips.

“After running Hawkeye 2 for a season, I’m 100% convinced it was the right way to go, says Lance Bell, an operator in Weldon, IA. “We mapped and sprayed across every waterway — the individual nozzle control worked great. Our usage of chemical was down, and productivity increased a lot. Using Hawkeye 2 to set and maintain a consistent pressure, we were able to adjust for how the wind was blowing that day to say consistent.”

The smart nozzles use variable pulse-width-modulation (PWM) frequency that allows operators to customize their applications to the variety of field conditions encountered while spraying. PWM ensures consistency of droplet size and spray pattern even when the speed of the machine fluctuates.

“The goal is always complete consistency and accuracy of what is applied to the crop,” Walkes says. “Field conditions can sometimes make that challenging. Hawkeye 2 brings operators the ability to adjust to field conditions and precisely control the spray application so the right rate is applied across the crop, which of course, is key to efficacy.”

Walkes says Raven is continuing to expand the capabilities of Hawkeye 2.

“As a company, we’re always working to find ways to develop our products to make them better,” he says.