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1. WO2020225277 - A LOW VOLUME SPRAY APPLICATION VEHICLE

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

A LOW VOLUME SPRAY APPLICATION VEHICLE

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to sprayable liquids for low volume application by a vehicle, to a low volume spray application vehicle, to a method of low volume spray application by a vehicle, as well as to a computer program element and a computer readable medium.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The general background of this invention is the application of active ingredients in liquid spray form, being sprayed from a vehicle. Active ingredients, such as herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, pesticides and nutritional supplements, are required to be sprayed in agricultural environments. There is a need to facilitate application via new types of vehicles, and to reduce the cost of such application. The general public increasingly wishes to see a reduction in any environmental impact associated with such application.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It would be advantageous to have improved means of applying active ingredients in agricultural environments.

The object of the present invention is solved with the subject matter of the independent claims, wherein further embodiments are incorporated in the dependent claims. It should be noted that the following described aspects and examples of the invention apply also for the sprayable liquid for low volume application by a vehicle, for the low volume spray application vehicle, for the method of low volume spray application by a vehicle, as well as for the computer program element and computer readable medium.

According to a first aspect, there is provided a sprayable liquid for low volume spray application by a vehicle, comprising:

a fluid;

at least one agrochemical active ingredient;

at least one adjuvant;

The sprayable liquid is configured to be sprayed at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area is equal to or less than 60 litres per hectare. The at least one adjuvant comprises: at least one compound of the group selected from mono-and diesters of sulfo succinate metal salts with branched or linear alcohols comprising 1-10 carbon atoms, in particular alkali metal salts, more particular sodium salts, and most particular sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate; at least one polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane; and at least one emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion with Tg in the range from -100°C to 30°C; The at least one adjuvant is at a determined concentration in the sprayable liquid.

Thus, enhanced efficacy is provided enabling low spray volumes to be used with reduced absolute amounts of active ingredient per unit area to be treated. The inclusion of the at least one emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion helps to mitigate the effects of wash-off, by for example rain, requiring less active ingredient to be sprayed per unit area.

The volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area is also termed the “spray volume” in the agrochemical spraying industry.

In an example, the determined concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is greater than or equal to 0.4g per litre.

In other words, the spray volume can be kept very low, whilst the adjuvant can be at a high concentration. This enables the sprayable liquid to be sprayed onto waxy leaves and spread and generally not rebound when sprayed onto foliage.

In an example, the concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is determined in inverse proportion to the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area.

Thus rather than have a concentration of adjuvant that is fixed in the sprayable liquid as is the case at present in the industry the concentration varies with the spray volume and does so in a manner where the concentration increases as the spray volume decreases. By varying the concentration in this manner low spray volumes are achievable that can be of the order 4-20 litres per hectare, making drone spraying ever more achievable.

Large spray volumes are generally associated with large spray droplets, but by varying the concentration in this manner smaller spray droplets with smaller spray volumes can be achieved.

Also, the rebound effect of droplets bouncing off leaves, which can be exacerbated through drone based spraying due to the increased fall speed of droplets due to the downdraught, is mitigated.

Thus rather than have a concentration of adjuvant that is fixed, by varying the concentration in this manner spray volumes below 60 and that can be of the order 4-20 litres per hectare are realisable, making drone spraying ever more achievable.

In an example, the at least one adjuvant comprises a dynamic wetter. The dynamic wetter can be comprised within at least one compatibilizer.

In this way, drone based spraying is further facilitated because with drones there is a decreased flight time of drops due to the downdraught from rotor blades, but the dynamic wetter enables the drops to spread out, and not rebound from the foliage.

According to a second aspect, there is provided a sprayable liquid for low volume spray application by a vehicle, comprising:

a fluid;

at least one agrochemical active ingredient;

at least one adjuvant.

The sprayable liquid is configured to be sprayed at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area is equal to or less than 60 litres per hectare. The at least one adjuvant comprises: at least one compound of the group selected from mono-and diesters of sulfo succinate metal salts with branched or linear alcohols comprising 1-10 carbon atoms, in particular alkali metal salts, more particular sodium salts, and most particular sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate; at least one polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane; and at least one compatibilizer. The at least one adjuvant is at a determined concentration in the sprayable liquid.

Thus, enhanced efficacy is provided enabling low spray volumes to be used with reduced absolute amounts of active ingredient per unit area to be treated. The inclusion of the at least compatibilizer helps with wetting and helps to stabilize the formulation, thereby requiring less active ingredient to be sprayed per unit area.

In an example, the determined concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is greater than or equal to 0.4g per litre.

In an example, the at least one emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion with Tg in the range from -100°C to 30°C.

In an example, the at least one adjuvant comprises one or more of:

one or more additives selected from the group consisting of non-ionic or anionic surfactants or dispersing aids; at least one rheological modifier; at least one antifoam agent; and at least one other formulant.

In an example, the concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is determined in inverse proportion to the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area. Here, inverse proportion can mean that as the volume of sprayable liquid decreases the concentration can increase in a manner that is not directly in proportion to the decrease. Thus, the amount of adjuvant sprayed per unit area can stay constant, or can vary. Thus, in other words as the volume to be sprayed decreases the concentration of adjuvant can increase.

In an example, the at least one adjuvant comprises a dynamic wetter.

According to a third aspect, there is provided a low volume spray application vehicle, comprising:

at least one liquid reservoir;

at least one chemical spray nozzle; and

a processing unit.

The at least one liquid reservoir is configured to hold a sprayable liquid according to the first aspect and any associated example or according to the second aspect and any associated example. The at least one chemical spray nozzle is configured to be in fluid communication with the at least one liquid reservoir. The vehicle is configured to move over an area of an environment. When the vehicle moves over the area of the environment, the processing unit is configured to activate the at least one chemical spray nozzle to spray the sprayable liquid at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per area is equal to or less than 60 litres per hectare.

In other words, very low spray volumes are used, in comparison to normal spray volumes that are of the order 200-1000 litres per hectare, whilst a concentration of the adjuvant can be high. Furthermore, substantially less adjuvant in terms of the amount (mass) is required, in comparison to normal amounts, at these very low spray volumes in order to provide this concentration in the sprayable liquid (dilution).

In an example, the vehicle comprises at least one camera. The at least one camera is configured to acquire at least one image of the environment. The at least one camera is configured also to provide the processing unit with the at least one image of the environment. The processing unit is configured to analyse the at least one image to determine at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray nozzle.

In other words, a vehicle carries a sprayable liquid to be used for agrochemical purposes, where that liquid has been specially formulated to facilitate low volume spray applications. To enable the sprayable liquid carried by the vehicle to be able to be applied more efficiently over an environment, for example for weed and/or pest control, rather than spraying indiscriminately the sprayable liquid is only sprayed where required, on the basis of analysis of imagery acquired by the vehicle. Thus, the vehicle can spray a larger environment, firstly because the sprayable liquid is formulated for low volume spray applications meaning that less spray is required per unit area, and secondly because only those areas of the environment that need to be sprayed are sprayed.

In this way, costs are saved as less spray is used, and time is saved as less areas of the environment are sprayed, and there are associated environmental benefits.

In an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one weed. In an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one disease. In an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one pest. In an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one insect. In an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a

determination of at least one nutritional deficiency.

In an example analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of weed. In an example analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a

determination of at least one type of disease. In an example analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of pest. In an example analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of insect. In an example analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of nutritional deficiency.

In other words, the at least one chemical spray nozzle can be activated and the sprayable liquid sprayed in a manner to account for there being weeds to be controlled at a location and wherein the type of weed to be controlled can be taken into account, and/or account for their being diseases to be controlled at a location and wherein the type of disease to be controlled can be taken into account, and/or account for their being pests to be controlled at a location and wherein the type of pest to be controlled can be taken into account, and/or account for their being insects to be controlled at a location and wherein the type of insect to be controlled can be taken into account, and/or account for their being nutritional deficiencies to be mitigated at a location and wherein the type of nutritional deficiency to be mitigated can be taken into account.

Thus, a vehicle such as a drone or robotic land vehicle can move around (fly around, or drive around) an environment such as a field, and on the basis of image processing of images acquired of the field, determine if there are weeds, what the type of weed is and where it is located, and a sprayable liquid containing the required active ingredient to control that weed and/or that type of weed can be sprayed at the location of the weed. A drone (or robotic land vehicle) can have a number of different reservoirs containing different sprayable liquids with different active ingredients, and on the basis of the identified weed the appropriate sprayable liquid can be sprayed over the weed. Also, there can be a number of different drones flying around the field (or robotic land vehicles driving around the field), each with a different sprayable liquid within its liquid reservoir containing different active ingredients, and if one drone (robotic land vehicle) images a weed that requires spraying with the sprayable liquid it carries, then it can immediately spray that weed. However, if that drone (or robotic land vehicle) determines that the weed should be controlled by a different sprayable liquid then it can communicate the location of the weed and the type of sprayable liquid to be sprayed at that location and the drone (or robotic land vehicle) that carries the correct sprayable liquid can fly (drive) to the weed and spray the correct sprayable liquid over the weed. The vehicle or vehicles operate in the same way with respect to controlling diseases, pests, insects and mitigating nutritional deficiencies. The at least one liquid reservoir can be recharged at a docking station. Thus, the vehicle can fly or drive to the docking station when it has used up the sprayable liquid, and be provided with a new charge of sprayable liquid. This can be via the docking station using a hose to transfer sprayable liquid from one of its own reservoir tanks to the vehicle. Alternatively, the reservoir that the vehicle has can be a transferrable reservoir. Thus the vehicle goes to the docking station, its reservoir is removed and a new reservoir inserted into the vehicle. In this way, the vehicle can carry on spraying the field. Also, the transferrable reservoir can be a sealed unit, meaning that there can be no human contact with the sprayable liquid, thereby increasing human safety, additionally, a new sprayable liquid can be picked up to spray a different field or indeed to spray the same field. The processing unit of the vehicle saves to memory what sprayable

liquid has been sprayed where and when, and if for example a farmer wished to spray a field with a different sprayable liquid that was incompatible with a previous sprayable liquid sprayed in that field, then the vehicle can automatically indicate to the farmer that this liquid should not now be sprayed at that location.

In this way, the correct sprayable liquid with the optimum active ingredient is used in each location increasing the effectiveness of application, and there are associated environmental advantages because the most aggressive chemicals are used only where necessary.

In an example, the vehicle comprises location determining means. The location determining means is configured to provide the processing unit with at least one location associated with the at least one camera when the at least one image was acquired.

The location can be a geographical location, with respect to a precise location on the ground, or can be a location on the ground that is referenced to another position or positions on the ground, such as a boundary of a field or the location of a drone docking station or charging station. In other words, an absolute geographical location can be utilized or a location on the ground that need not be known in absolute terms, but that is referenced to a known location can be used. Thus, by correlating an image with the location where it was acquired, the at least one chemical spray nozzle can be accurately activated to that location. Thus, even when for example a drone has run out of liquid spray, and is flying back to a larger reservoir to fill up with sprayable liquid, it can continue to acquire imagery to be used to activate the spray nozzle at specific locations even if that location is not immediately sprayed but is sprayed later when the drone has re-charged. Also, when the drone determines that a location should be sprayed with a sprayable liquid that it is not carrying that information can be logged and used by that drone later when it carries the required sprayable liquid or transmitted to another drone that carries that sprayable liquid, and that other drone can fly to the location and spray its sprayable liquid at that location.

According to a fourth aspect, there is provided a method of low volume spray application by a vehicle, comprising:

a) holding a sprayable liquid in at least one liquid reservoir of the vehicle, wherein, at least one chemical spray nozzle of the vehicle is configured to be in fluid communication with the at least one liquid reservoir, and wherein the sprayable liquid is defined according to the first aspect or the second aspect;

b) moving the vehicle over an area of an environment;

e) activating by a processing unit the at least one nozzle to spray the sprayable liquid; and

f) spraying the sprayable liquid at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid being sprayed per area is equal to or less than 60 litres per hectare.

In an example, the method comprises the following steps:

c) acquiring at least one image of the environment by at least one camera of the vehicle;

d) providing from the at least one camera to the processing unit the at least one image of the environment; and

wherein step e) comprises step el) analysing by the processing unit the at least one image to activate the at least one chemical spray nozzle.

According to another aspect, there is provided a computer program element for controlling a vehicle according to the second aspect, which when executed by a processor is configured to carry out the method of the third aspect.

Advantageously, the benefits provided by any of the above aspects equally apply to all of the other aspects and vice versa.

The above aspects and examples will become apparent from and be elucidated with reference to the embodiments described hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments will be described in the following with reference to the following drawings:

Fig. 1 shows a schematic set up of an example of a low volume spray application vehicle;

Fig. 2 shows a method for low volume spray application by a vehicle;

Fig. 3 shows a representation of the adjuvant content in a formulation as a function of spray volume and a representation of biological performance as a function of spray volume for a sprayable liquid configured to be sprayed by the vehicle of Fig. 1 within a method of Fig. 2;

Fig. 4 shows a schematic set-up of an example of a low volume spray application vehicle;

Fig. 5 shows a schematic set-up of an example of a low volume spray application vehicle; and

Fig. 6 shows spray deposits on rice, soybean and corn leaves; and

Fig. 7 shows spray leaf coverage and spray deposit size on rice at different spray volumes.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Fig. 1 shows an example of a low volume spray application vehicle 10. There are two main examples of sprayable liquids that can be sprayed by the vehicle, as now described. Each main example comes as a main ingredient set, with optional additional examples that can be used to augment each main example then described.

Example 1

Example 1 is a sprayable liquid for low volume spray application by a vehicle. The sprayable liquid comprises a fluid, at least one agrochemical active ingredient, and at least one adjuvant. The sprayable liquid is configured to be sprayed at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area is equal to or less than 60 litres per hectare. The at least one adjuvant comprises: at least one compound of the group selected from mono-and diesters of sulfo succinate metal salts with branched or linear alcohols comprising 1-10 carbon atoms, in particular alkali metal salts, more particular sodium salts, and most particular sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate; at least one polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane; and at least one emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion with Tg in the range from -100°C to 30°C. The at least one adjuvant is at a determined concentration in the sprayable liquid.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 1, the determined concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is greater than or equal to 0.4g per litre.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 1, the at least one adjuvant comprises at least one compatibilizer.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 1, the at least one adjuvant comprises one or more of: one or more additives selected from the group consisting of non-ionic or anionic surfactants or dispersing aids; at least one rheological modifier; at least one antifoam agent; and at least one other formulant.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 1, the concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is determined in inverse proportion to the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 1, the at least one adjuvant comprises a dynamic wetter.

Example 2

Example 2 is a sprayable liquid for low volume spray application by a vehicle. The sprayable liquid comprises a fluid, at least one agrochemical active ingredient, and at least one adjuvant. The sprayable liquid is configured to be sprayed at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area is equal to or less than 60 litres per hectare. The at least one adjuvant comprises: at least one compound of the group selected from mono-and diesters of sulfo succinate metal salts with branched or linear alcohols comprising 1-10 carbon atoms, in particular alkali metal salts, more particular sodium salts, and most particular sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate; at least one polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane; and at least one compatibilizer. The at least one adjuvant is at a determined concentration in the sprayable liquid.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 2, the determined concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is greater than or equal to 0.4g per litre.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 2, the at least one adjuvant comprises an emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion with Tg in the range from -100°C to 30°C.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 2, the at least one adjuvant comprises one or more of: one or more additives selected from the group consisting of non-ionic or anionic surfactants or dispersing aids; at least one rheological modifier; at least one antifoam agent; and at least one other formulant.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 2, the concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is determined in inverse proportion to the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area.

According to an example of the sprayable liquid of Example 2, the at least one adjuvant comprises a dynamic wetter.

Continuing with Fig. 1. The low volume spray application vehicle 10 comprises at least one liquid reservoir 20, at least one chemical spray nozzle 30, and a processing unit 40. The at least one liquid reservoir 20 is configured to hold a sprayable liquid, as described under Example 1 above or as described under Example 2 above. The at least one chemical spray nozzle 30 is configured to be in fluid communication with the at

least one liquid reservoir 20. The vehicle 10 is configured to move over an area of an environment. When the vehicle moves over the area of the environment, the processing unit 40 is configured to activate the at least one chemical spray nozzle 30 to spray the sprayable liquid at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per area is less than or equal to 60 litres per hectare.

According to an example, the vehicle comprises at least one camera 50. The at least one camera 50 is configured to acquire at least one image of the environment. The at least one camera is configured also to provide the processing unit with the at least one image of the environment. The processing unit is configured to analyse the at least one image to determine at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray nozzle.

In an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one location of vegetation in the environment.

In other words, image processing can be used in order to determine the areas of vegetation in the acquired imagery, and the chemical spray nozzles(s) can be activated at those locations.

According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one weed. According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one disease. According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one pest. According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one insect. According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one nutritional deficiency.

According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of weed. According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of disease. According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of pest. According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of insect. According to an example, analysis of the at least one image to determine the at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit comprises a determination of at least one type of nutritional deficiency.

In an example, analysis of the at least one image comprises utilisation of a machine learning algorithm.

In an example, the machine learning algorithm comprises a decision tree algorithm.

In an example, the machine learning algorithm comprises an artificial neural network.

In an example, the machine learning algorithm has been taught on the basis of a plurality of images. In an example, the machine learning algorithm has been taught on the basis of a plurality of images containing imagery of at least one type of weed, and/or at least of type of plant suffering from one or more diseases, and/or at least one type of plant suffering from insect infestation from one or more types of insect, and/or at least one type of insect (when the imagery has sufficient resolution), and/or at least one type of plant suffering from one or more pests, and/or at least one type of plant suffering from one or more types of nutritional deficiency. In an example, the machine learning algorithm has been taught on the basis of a plurality of images containing such imagery.

According to an example, the vehicle comprises location determining means 60. The location determining means 60 is configured to provide the processing unit with at least one location associated with the at least one camera when the at least one image was acquired.

In an example, the location is an absolute geographical location.

In an example, the location is a location that is determined with reference to a known location or locations. In other words, an image can be determined to be associated with a specific location on the ground, without knowing its precise geographical position, but by knowing the location where an image was acquired with respect to known position(s) on the ground the at least one chemical spray nozzle can then be activated at a later time at that location by moving the at least one chemical spray nozzle to that location or enabling another vehicle to move to that location at activate its chemical spray nozzle at that location.

In an example, a GPS unit 62 is used to determine, and/or is used in determining, the location of the at least one camera when specific images were acquired.

In an example, an inertial navigation unit 64 is used alone, or in combination with a GPS unit, to determine the location of the at least one camera when specific images were acquired. Thus for example, the inertial navigation unit, comprising for example one or more laser gyroscopes, is calibrated or zeroed at a known location (such as a drone docking or charging station) and as it moves with the at least one camera the movement away from that known location in x, y, and z coordinates can be determined, from which the location of the at least one camera when images were acquired can be determined.

In an example, image processing of acquired imagery 66 is used alone, or in combination with a GPS unit, or in combination with a GPS unit and inertial navigation unit, to determine the location of the at least one camera when specific images were acquired. In other words, as the vehicle moves it can acquire imagery that is used to render a synthetic representation of the environment and from specific markers, such as the position of trees, field boundaries, roads etc the vehicle can determine its position within that synthetic environment from imagery it acquires.

In an example, the vehicle is an unmanned aerial vehicle. In an example, the unmanned aerial vehicle is a drone. In an example, the vehicle is a weed control train.

In an example, there is provided a system comprising a plurality of vehicles. At least one the vehicles comprises at least one camera 50. The at least one camera 50 is configured to acquire at least one image of the environment. The at least one camera is configured also to provide the processing unit with the at least one image of the environment. The processing unit is configured to analyse the at least one image to determine at least one location for activation of at least one chemical spray nozzle of at least one of the plurality of vehicles. In an example, the processing unit is configured to analyse the at least one image to determine at least one location for activation of at least one chemical spray nozzle of at least one of the plurality of vehicles that is different to its own chemical spray nozzle.

Fig. 2 shows, in solid lines, method 100 of low volume spray application by a vehicle in its basic steps, with optional steps shown in dashed lines. The method 100 in its basic steps comprises:

in a holding step 110, also referred to as step a), holding a sprayable liquid in at least one liquid reservoir of the vehicle, wherein, at least one chemical spray nozzle of the vehicle is configured to be in fluid communication with the at least one liquid reservoir, and wherein, the sprayable liquid comprises a fluid, and wherein the sprayable liquid is as defined above under Example 1 or as defined above under Example 2;

in a moving step 120, also referred to as step b), moving the vehicle over an area of an environment;

in an activating step 130, also referred to as step e), activating by a processing unit the at least one nozzle to spray the sprayable liquid; and

in a spraying step 140, also referred to as step f), spraying the sprayable liquid at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid being sprayed per area is equal to or less than 60 litres per hectare.

In an example, the method comprises determining the concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid to be greater than or equal to 0.4g per litre.

In an example, the method comprises determining the concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid in inverse proportion to the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area.

According to an example, the method comprises the following steps:

in an acquiring step 150, also referred to as step c), acquiring at least one image of the environment by at least one camera of the vehicle;

in a providing step 160, also referred to as step d), providing from the at least one camera to the processing unit the at least one image of the environment; and

wherein step e) comprises step el) analysing 170 by the processing unit the at least one image to activate the at least one chemical spray nozzle.

In an example, in step el) the analysing 170 comprises determining 180 at least one location for activation of the at least one chemical spray unit.

In an example, in step el) the analysing 170 comprises determining 190 at least one location of vegetation in the environment.

In an example, in step el) the analysing 170 comprises determining 200 at least one weed, and/or comprises determining 210 at least one disease, and/or comprises determining 220 at least one pest, and/or comprises determining 230 at least one insect, and/or comprises determining 240 at least one nutritional deficiency.

In an example, in step el) the analysing 70 comprises determining 202 at least one type of weed, and/or comprises determining 212 at least one type of disease, and/or comprises determining 222 at least one type of pest, and/or comprises determining 232 at least one type of insect, and/or comprises determining 242 at least one type of nutritional deficiency.

In an example, the vehicle comprises location determining means, and wherein the method comprises providing the processing unit with at least one location associated with the at least one camera when the at least one image was acquired.

Fig. 3 shows a representation of the adjuvant content in a formulation as a function of spray volume and a representation of biological performance as a function of spray volume for a sprayable liquid configured to be sprayed by the vehicle of Fig. 1 within a method of Fig. 2. This is explained in more detail below:

Formulations that are sprayed at relatively high spray volumes of water e.g. > 200 1/ha generally require quite high levels of adjuvants if they are to affect the physical properties of the spray such as spray droplet size, dynamic and static surface tension, penetration of the active ingredient(s) and wash-off of active ingredient particles by rainfall. These physical properties in turn influence the drift, spray retention/rebound from the crop, wetting and spreading (or run-off), biodelivery and rainfastness.

1. The biodelivery is a desired property which when enhanced can both improve the performance of active ingredient(s) and allow the use of reduced active ingredient dose rates at equal or better performance.

2. Drift, spray rebound, run-off and low rainfastness are undesired properties that result in off-target losses of active ingredient(s) leading to reduced product performance and unwanted contamination of the environment.

Formulations sprayed at high spray volumes require higher quantities of adjuvant to achieve the same concentration in the spray compared to low spray volumes. An adjuvant or surfactant at a concentration of 0.1% at 500 1/ha requires 500 ml of adjuvant (see B in Fig. 3) compared to 50 ml at 50 1/ha and for the case of drones/UAVs 10 ml at 10 1/ha (see A in Fig. 3) for example.

Therefore, spray at low volumes (e.g. less than or equal to 60 1/ha) has the particular advantage that substantially less adjuvant is required for the same concentration in the spray dilution. Furthermore, spray at low volumes used by drones/UAVs (e.g. 8-20 1/ha) has an even greater advantage.

Furthermore, a particular concern with drones/UAVs containing rotors is that the high downdraught from the rotors significantly increases the impact velocity (v) of the spray drops (mass m) on the crop resulting in increased rebound (kinetic energy = ½mv2). This is further exacerbated by the shortened flight time of the spray drops, which allows less time for any adjuvants such as surfactants in the spray dilution to migrate to the air-water interface and reduce the‘dynamic’ surface tension. This concern can be overcome by the advantage that the concentration at such low spray volumes (e.g. 8-20 1/ha) of any adjuvants which function as dynamic wetters allows a suitable amount to be incorporated in the formulation without strongly impacting stability, cost or eye safety of the formulation. For example, a 1 1/ha product containing 15 g/1 of a dynamic wetter (a very low amount) would have a high concentration of 1.5 g/1 @ 10 1/ha, 0.75 g/1 @ 20 1/ha, 0.375 g/1 @ 40 1/ha, 0.25 g/1 @ 60 1/ha, and low concentrations of 0.075 g/1 @ 200 1/ha, 0.03 g/1 @ 500 1/ha and 0.015 g/1 @ 1000 1/ha. In an example, a 1 1/ha product containing 20 g/1 of a dynamic wetter (a very low amount) would have a high concentration of 2 g/1 @ 10 1/ha, 1 g/1 @ 20 1/ha, 0.5 g/1 @ 40 1/ha, 0.33 g/1 @ 60 1/ha, and low concentrations of 0.1 g/1 @ 200 1/ha, 0.04 g/1 @ 500 1/ha and 0.02 g/1 @ 1000 1/ha. In an example, a 1 1/ha product containing 25 g/1 (a very low amount) of a dynamic wetter would have a high concentration of 2.5 g/1 @ 10 1/ha, 1.25 g/1 @ 20 1/ha, 0.625 g/1 @ 40 1/ha, 0.416 g/1 @ 60 1/ha, and low concentrations of 0.125 g/1 @ 200 1/ha, 0.05 g/1 @ 500 1/ha and 0.025 g/1 @ 1000 1/ha. In an example, a 0.5 1/ha product containing 25 g/1 of a dynamic wetter would have a high concentration of 1.25 g/1 @ 10 1/ha, 0.625 g/1 @ 20 1/ha, 0.313 g/1 @ 40 1/ha, 0.208 g/1 @ 60 1/ha, and low concentrations of 0.0625 g/1 @ 200 1/ha, 0.025 g/1 @ 500 1/ha and 0.0125 g/1 @ 1000 1/ha. In an example, a 0.5 1/ha product containing 15 g/1 of a dynamic wetter would have a high concentration of 0.75 g/1 @ 10 1/ha, 0.375 g/1 @ 20 1/ha, and low concentrations of 0.1875 g/1 @ 40 1/ha, 0.125 g/1 @ 60 1/ha, 0.0375 g/1 @ 200 1/ha, 0.015 g/1 @ 500 1/ha and 0.0075 g/1 @ 1000 1/ha. In an example, a 0.5 1/ha product containing 10 g/1 of a dynamic wetter would have a high concentration of 0.5 g/1 @ 10 1/ha, 0.25 g/1 @ 20 1/ha, and low concentrations of 0.125 g/1 @ 40 1/ha, 0.083 g/1 @ 60 1/ha, 0.025 g/1 @ 200 1/ha, 0.01 g/1 @ 500 1/ha and 0.005 g/1 @ 1000 1/ha. In an example, a 1 1/ha product containing 10 g/1 of dynamic wetter sprayed at 4 to 8 1/ha would have a high concentration of 2.5 g/1 @ 4 1/ha and 1.25 g/1 at 8 1/ha. In an example a 0.5 1/ha product containing 30 g/1 of dynamic wetter sprayed at 40 to 60 1/ha would have a high concentration of 0.375 g/1 @ 40 1/ha and 0.25 g/1 @ 60 1/ha. (Nb. 1 g/1 = 0.1% and w/v ~ w/w since densities are ~1 g/ml).

Thus, referring to Fig. 3 the sprayable liquid is specifically configured for application at spray volumes less than or equal to 60 litres per hectare (1/ha), and surprisingly leads to enhanced performance that lends itself to application via platforms such as drones, that additionally can only carry small weights and volumes, with the sprayable liquid exhibiting further advantages for such low weight carrying platforms. The relation between

biological performance and spray volume can shift according to the density of the crop canopy.

The low volume spray application vehicle and method of low volume spray application by a vehicle are discussed in further detail with respect to Fig. 4 and 5.

Fig. 4 shows an example of a low volume spray application vehicle 10, which in this example is a drone. The vehicle can however be a land based robotic rover, and the discussion relating to the drone equally applies to the robotic land rover. The drone 10 has at least one liquid reservoir 20. In Fig. 4 only one reservoir 20 is shown, and the drone 10 can only apply one sprayable liquid for low volume application. However, if necessary the drone can have more than one reservoir 20, holding different sprayable liquids for low volume application. The reservoirs can be transferred for different reservoirs that hold the same sprayable liquid or different sprayable liquids at a docking station. The drone 10 has at least one chemical spray nozzle 30. In the example shown in Fig. 4 the drone 10 only has one chemical spray nozzle 30, but can have more than one, for example linked to different reservoirs 20 holding different sprayable liquids. The drone 10 also has a processing unit 40, that controls activation of the chemical spray nozzle 30 and controls where the drone flies.

The drone 10 flies around a field and sprays the crop with the sprayable liquid for low volume application that includes an active ingredient, such as a herbicide for example - other active ingredients can be used, such as pesticides/insecticides/fungicides. The drone 10 can have location determining means 60, such as a GPS 62 that enables the drone to fly around the field without spraying the same area twice, and enables navigation back to a refilling point, where its reservoir is refilled with sprayable liquid and if necessary its battery is changed, or, if powered by a combustion engine, its fuel tank refilled.

Fig. 5 shows an example of a low volume spray application vehicle 10, which in this example is a drone, but as discussed above the vehicle can be a robotic land rover. The drone 10 is similar to that shown in Fig. 4 but also has at least one camera 50, which in the specific example is just one camera. Also, the processor 40 uses the imagery acquired by the camera to activate the spray nozzle 30. The camera 50 acquires imagery of the environment of a field. The imagery need not be acquired by the drone 10, but could be acquired by a different drone (not shown in Fig. 5) and then passed to the drone 10 for processing. The imagery acquired by the cameras 50 is at a resolution that enables vegetation to be identified as vegetation and indeed can be at resolution that enables one type of weed to be

differentiated from another type of weed. The imagery can be at a resolution that enables pest or insect infested crops to be determined, either from the imagery of the crop itself or from acquisition of for examples insects themselves. The drone 10 can have a Global Positioning System (GPS) 62 and this enables the location of acquired imagery to be determined. For example the orientation of cameras 50 and the position of the drone 10 when imagery was acquired can be used to determine the geographical footprint of the image at the ground plane. The drone 10 can also have inertial navigation systems 64, based for example on laser gyroscopes. In addition to being used to determine the orientation of the drone 10 and hence of the camera 50, facilitating a determination of where on the ground the imagery has been acquired, the inertial navigation systems 64 can function alone without a GPS 62 to determine the position of the drone, by determining movement away from a known or a number of known locations, such as the filling/charging station. The camera 50 passes the acquired imagery to the processing unit 40. Image analysis software operates on the processing unit 40. The image analysis software can use feature extraction, such as edge detection, and object detection analysis that for example can identify structures such in and around the field such as buildings, roads, fences, hedges, etc. Thus, on the basis of known locations of such objects, the processing unit can patch the acquired imagery to in effect create a synthetic

representation of the environment that can in effect be overlaid over a geographical map of the environment. Thus, the geographical location of each image can be determined, and there need not be associated GPS and/or inertial navigation based information associated with acquired imagery. In other words, an image based location system 66 can be used to locate the drone 10. However, if there is GPS and/or inertial navigation information available then such image analysis, that can place specific images at specific geographical locations only on the basis of the imagery, is not required. Although, if GPS and/or inertial navigation based information is available then such image analysis can be used to augment the geographical location associated with an image.

The processing unit 40 runs further image processing software. This software analyses an image to determine the areas within the image where vegetation is to be found, and also analyses the imagery to determine where vegetation is not to be found (for example at pathways across a field, around the borders of a field and even tractor wheel tracks across a field). This latter information can be used to determine where the sprayable liquid is not required to be sprayed.

Vegetation can be detected based on the shape of features within acquired images, where for example edge detection software is used to delineate the outer perimeter of objects and the outer perimeter of features within the outer perimeter of the object itself; organic material between ballast can be detected in a similar manner. A database of vegetation imagery can be used in helping determine if a feature in imagery relates to vegetation or not, using for example a trained machine learning algorithm such as an artificial neural network or decision tree analysis. The camera can acquire multi-spectral imagery, with imagery having information relating to the colour within images, and this can be used alone, or in

combination with feature detection to determine where in an image vegetation is to be found. As discussed above, because the geographical location of an image can be determined, from knowledge of the size of an image on the ground, the location or locations of vegetation, and/or other areas where the sprayable liquid is to be applied, can be found in an image and can then be mapped to the exact position of that vegetation (area) on the ground.

The processing unit 40 then runs further image processing software that can be part of the image processing that determines vegetation location on the basis of feature extraction, if that is used. This software comprises a machine learning analyser. Images of specific weeds are acquired, with information also relating to the size of weeds being used. Information relating to a geographical location in the world, where such a weed is to be found and information relating to a time of year when that weed is to be found, including when in flower etc. can be tagged with the imagery. The names of the weeds can also be tagged with the imagery of the weeds. The machine learning analyser, which can be based on an artificial neural network or a decision tree analyser, is then trained on this ground truth acquired imagery. In this way, when a new image of vegetation is presented to the analyser, where such an image can have an associated time stamp such as time of year and a geographical location such as Germany or South Africa tagged to it, the analyser determines the specific type of weed that is in the image through a comparison of imagery of a weed found in the new image with imagery of different weeds it has been trained on, where the size of weeds, and where and when they grow can also be taken into account. The specific location of that weed type on the ground within the environment, and its size, can therefore be determined.

The processing unit 40 has access to a database containing different weed types, and the optimum sprayable liquid to be sprayed over that weed. This database has been compiled from experimentally determined data. The image processing software, using the machine learning algorithm, has also been taught to recognize insects, plants infested with insects, plants suffering from pests, and plants that are suffering from nutritional deficiencies. This is done in the same manner as discussed above, through training based on previously acquired imagery. The database also contains what sprayable liquid should be applied in what situation.

Returning to the situation, where a weed or area of vegetation has been determined to exist from image analysis within the field. The location of the weed is determined, and the required sprayable liquid to be sprayed over the weed is determined. If the drone 10 is carrying the required sprayable liquid, then it can immediately spray the weed. For example, as shown in Fig. 5 one weed in a crop (the crop itself is not shown, just weeds) is being imaged. A previous weed, of the same type that is now being imaged was previously imaged, and determined to be of a type that could be controlled via spraying of the sprayable liquid over that weed. The drone 10 then flies over the weed and the processing unit 40 activates the spray nozzle to spray the sprayable liquid over the weed. In Fig. 5 the drone 10 will soon fly over the weed now being imaged, and as this weed needs to be controlled via the sprayable liquid it holds, the processing unit 40 will again activate the spray nozzle 30 when it flies over the weed. Even if the reservoir empties before the drone 10 reaches the weed, because the location of the weed has been determined the drone can fly back to a filling station, load up with more sprayable liquid and fly back to the weed and spray the sprayable liquid over the weed. The drone 10 whilst flying around the field can detect plants that need to have a different sprayable liquid sprayed over them, for example an insecticide rather than a herbicide it carries. However, the drone 10 can determine the location of the plant and the sprayable liquid to be sprayed over the plant and transmit that information to another drone (not shown in Fig. 5) that carries the required sprayable liquid. This other drone can then fly to the plant and spray the sprayable liquid over the plant.

Thus, a field could have four drones flying over it, two carrying different types of herbicide, one carrying an insecticide, and one carrying a fungicide. Each drone can then fly over a different quarter of the field, and as it does so apply its sprayable liquid where required. However, each drone also determines where each of the other sprayable liquids carried by the other drones should be applied. The other drones then fly to these locations, and apply the liquid. The could also be one drone flying around a field applying its chemical, and then relaying locations to other drones, as shown for example in Fig. 4, that do not need to have cameras, but can then fly to the required location to spray their sprayable liquids.

Low volume spravable liquid

The sprayable liquid for low volume spray application by a vehicle comprises a fluid, at least one agrochemical active ingredient, and at least one adjuvant. The sprayable liquid is configured to be sprayed at a liquid spray rate such that the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area is less than or equal to 60 litres per hectare. The at least one adjuvant is at a determined concentration in the sprayable liquid. The sprayable liquid is described in Examples 1 and 2 above, with additional details provided below.

In an example, the concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid varies as the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area varies. In other words, the concentration of adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is not fixed, but varies as the sprayable volume varies.

Thus by having a sprayable liquid with a concentration of at least one adjuvant at an appropriate level, the drops spread out when they encounter foliage and are less likely to bounce or rebound off. Thus, the immediate benefit is that lower spray volumes are required, because more of the spray is applied where it is required - on the foliage. Furthermore, smaller spray droplet sizes can be used, which otherwise would have less tendency to spread out and have a tendency to bounce off, which does not now happen. Larger drop sizes, normally required to mitigate spreading and rebound effects, require low concentration levels of active ingredient in order that not too much is deposited at an impact point, which then requires very large spray volumes to ensure that the required total amount of active ingredient is supplied per unit area. However, the determined concentration enables smaller droplet sizes to be used within a spray volume that is less than or equal to 60 litres per hectare. Also, when the vehicle is for example a drone, the smaller droplets can still be used because the drops still spread out, wet, and do not rebound, which can be exacerbated due to increased droplet impact velocities due to downdraft effects from rotor blades. Thus, small droplets can be used, as these are blown downwards and there is minimal drift, which would otherwise require large droplets sizes, enabling very low spray volumes consistent with drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) application.

In this manner by having very low spray volumes, large areas can be treated with reduced payloads and/or vehicles that cannot have particularly large payloads, such as drones or other unmanned vehicles, gain utility for the agrochemical spraying.

In an example, the at least one agrochemical active ingredient is one or more of: a herbicide; a fungicide; a bactericide; a pesticide; an insecticide; an acaricide; a nematicide; a molluscicide; a plant growth regulators; a plant nutrients; a biological actives substance; a repellent.

In an example, the at least one adjuvant can also be considered to be a dispersing aid and comprises a non-anionic surfactant customarily employed in agrochemical agents, such as: polyethylene oxide-polypropylene oxide block copolymers; polyethylene

glycol ethers of branched or linear alcohols; reaction products of fatty acids or fatty acid alcohols with ethylene oxide and/or propylene oxide; polyvinyl alcohol, polyoxyalkylenamine derivatives; polyvinylpyrrolidone; copolymers of polyvinyl alcohol and polyvinylpyrrolidone; and copolymers of (meth)acrylic acid and (meth)acrylic acid esters; furthermore branched or linear alkyl ethoxylates and alkylaryl ethoxylates; polyethylene oxide-sorbitan fatty acid esters. Out of the examples mentioned above selected classes can be optionally phosphated, sulphonated or sulphated and neutralized with bases, and other non-ionic

adjuvants/surfactants can be used.

In an example, the at least one adjuvant can also be considered to be a dispersing aid and comprises an anionic surfactant customarily employed in agrochemical agents, such as: alkali metal, alkaline earth metal and ammonium salts of alkylsulphonic or alkylphospohric acids as well as alkylarylsulphonic or alkylarylphosphoric acids; alkali metal, alkaline earth metal and ammonium salts of polystyrenesulphonic acids, salts of

polyvinylsulphonic acids, salts of alkylnaphthalene sulphonic acids, salts of naphthalene-sulphonic acid-formaldehyde condensation products, salts of condensation products of naphthalenesulphonic acid, phenolsulphonic acid and formaldehyde, and salts of

lignosulphonic acid; and other anionic surfactants can be used.

In an example, the insecticide is one or more of: abamectin; acetamiprid;

acrinathrin; acynonapyr; benzpyrimoxan; broflanilide; clothianidin; cyantraniliprole;

chlorantraniliprole; cyclaniliprole; dicloromezotiaz; dodecadienol; flubendiamide; fluhexafon; imidacloprid; nitenpyram, chlorfenapyr; emamectin; ethiprole; fipronil; flonicamid;

flupyradifurone; indoxacarb; metaflumizone; methoxyfenozid; milbemycin; oxazosulfyl; pyridaben; pyridalyl; silafluofen; spinosad; spirodiclofen; spiromesifen; spirotetramat;

sulfoxaflor; tetraniliprole; thiacloprid; thiamethoxam; triflumezopyrim; triflumuron; and other insecticides can be used.

In an example, the fungicide is one or more of: amisulbrom; bixafen;

fenamidone; fenhexamid; fluopicolide; fluopyram; fluoxastrobin; iprovalicarb; isotianil;

pencycuron; penflufen; propineb; prothioconazole; tebuconazole; trifloxystrobin;

ametoctradin; amisulbrom; azoxystrobin; benthiavalicarb-isopropyl; benzovindiflupyr;

boscalid; carbendazim; chlorothanonil; cyazofamid; cyflufenamid; cymoxanil; cyproconazole; dichlobentiazox; difenoconazole; dipymetitrone; ethaboxam; epoxiconazole; famoxadone; fenpicoxamid; florylpicoxamid; fluazinam; fluopimomide; fludioxonil; fluindapyr;

fluquinconazole; flusilazole; flutianil; fluxapyroxad; ipfentrifluconazole; ipflufenoquin;

isopyrazam; kresoxim-methyl; lyserphenvalpyr; mancozeb; mandipropamid;

mefentrifluconazole; oxathiapiprolin; penthiopyrad; picarbutrazox; picoxystrobin; probenazole; proquinazid; pydiflumetofen; pyraclostrobin; pyraziflumid; pyridachlometyl; quinofumelin; sedaxane; tebufloquin; tetraconazole; valiphenalate; zoxamide; N-cyclopropyl-3-(difluoromethyl)-5-fluoro-N-(2-isopropylbenzyl)-l-methyl-lH-pyrazole-4-carboxamide; 2-{3-[2-(l-{ [3,5 -bis(difluoromethyl)- 1 H-pyrazol- 1 -yl] acetyl } -piperidin-4-yl)- 1 , 3 -thiazol-4-yl] -4,5-dihydro-l,2-oxazol-5-yl}-3-chlorophenyl methanesulfonat; and other fungicides can be used.

In an example, the herbicide comprises all applicable forms such as acids, salts, ester, with at least one applicable form): aclonifen; amidosulfuron; bensulfuron- methyl;

bromoxynil; bromoxynil potassium; chlorsulfuron; clodinafop; clodinafop-propargyl;

clopyralid; cyclopyranil; 2,4-D, 2,4-D-dimethylammonium, -diolamin, -isopropylammonium, -potassium, -triisopropanolammonium, and -trolamine; 2,4-DB, 2,4-DB dimethylammonium, -potassium, and -sodium; desmedipham; dicamba; diflufenican; diuron; ethofumesate;

ethoxysulfuron; fenoxaprop-P; fenquinotrione; flazasulfuron; florasulam; florpyrauxifen; florpyrauxifen-benzyl; flufenacet; fluroxypyr; flurtamone; fomesafen; fomesafen- sodium; foramsulfuron; glufosinate; glufosinate-ammonium; glyphosate; glyphosate-isopropylammonium, -potassium, and trimesium; halauxifen; halauxifen-methyl;

halosulfuron-methyl; indaziflam; iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium; isoproturon; isoxaflutole; lenacil; MCPA; MCPA-isopropylammonium, -potassium, and sodium; MCPB; MCPB-sodium; mesosulfuron-methyl; mesotrione; metosulam; metribuzin; metsulfuron-methyl; napropamide; napropamide-M; nicosulfuron; pendimethalin; penoxsulam; phenmedipham; picolinafen ; pinoxaden; propoxycarbazone-sodium; pyrasulfotole; pyroxasulfone;

pyroxsulam; rimsulfuron; saflufenacil; sulcotrion; tefuryltrione; tembotrione; thiencarbazone-methyl; tolpyralate; topramezone; triafamone; tribenuron-methyl; trifludimoxazin; and other herbicides can be used.

Preferred safeners a) or h) are: Mefenpyr-diethyl, Cyprosulfamide, Isoxadifen-ethyl, (RS)-l-methylhexyl (5-chloroquinolin-8-yloxy)acetate (Cloquintocet-mexyl, CAS-No. : 99607-70-2), metcamifen.

In an example, the sprayable liquid comprises one or more of: an alkyl sulfosuccinate; an organosilicone ethoxylate; a rheological modifier; a rheological modifier; an antifoamer.

• Thus, an appropriately designed sprayable liquid is provided that can be sprayed at low spray volumes (less than or equal to 60 1/ha) and which can achieve significant levels of spray retention, low run-off, low wash-

off by rain, high wetting and spreading, and that is compatible with application via vehicles such as drones / UAVs.

According to an example, the determined concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is greater than or equal to 0.4g per litre.

According to an example, the concentration of the at least one adjuvant in the sprayable liquid is determined in inverse proportion to the volume of sprayable liquid to be sprayed per unit area.

In an example, the at least one active ingredient and the at least one adjuvant are comprised within a formulation.

According to an example, the at least one adjuvant comprises a dynamic wetter.

In an example, the adjuvant comprises one of more of: a penetration promoter; a wetting agent; a spreading agent; a retention agent. In an example, penetration promoters, wetting agents, spreading agents, and retention agents are one or more of: ethoxylated branched alcohols (e.g. Genapol® X-type) with 2-20 EO units; methyl end-capped, ethoxylated branched alcohols (e.g. Genapol® XM-type) comprising 2-20 EO units;

ethoxylated coconut alcohols (e.g. Genapol® C-types) comprising 2-20 EO units; ethoxylated C12/15 alcohols (e.g. Synperonic® A-types) comprising 2-20 EO units; propoxy-ethoxylated alcohols, branched or linear, e.g. Antarox® B/848, Atlas® G5000, Lucramul® HOT 5902; propoxy-ethoxylated fatty acids, Me end-capped, e.g. Leofat® OC0503M; organomodified polysiloxanes, e.g. BreakThru® OE444, BreakThru® S240, Silwett® L77, Silwett® 408, Silwet® 806; mono-and diesters of sulfo succinate Na salts with branched or linear alcohols comprising 1-10 carbon atoms; ethoxylated diacetylene-diols (e.g. Surfynol® 4xx-range); alkyl ether citrate surfactants (e.g. Adsee® CE range, Akzo Nobel); alkylpolysaccharides (e.g. Agnique® PG8107, PG8105, Atplus® 438, AL-2559, AL-2575); ethoxylated mono- or diesters of glycerine comprising fatty acids with 8-18 carbon atoms and an average of 10-40 EO units (e.g. Crovol® range); castor oil ethoxylates comprising an average of 5-40 EO units (e.g. Berol® range, Emulsogen® EL range); block-copolymer of polyethylene oxide and polypropylene oxide.

In an example, the fluid comprises a solvent such as water.

The following relates to specific detailed examples of agrochemical

compositions used for the sprayable liquid

an aqueous dispersion of

a) at least one agrochemical active compound, which is solid at room temperature, b) at least one compound of the group selected from mono-and diesters of sulfo succinate metal salts with branched or linear alcohols comprising 1-10 carbon atoms, in particular alkali metal salts, more particular sodium salts, and most particular sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate;

c) at least one polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane,

d) at least one emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion with Tg in the range from -100°C to 30°C,

e) one or more additives selected from the group consisting of non-ionic or anionic surfactants or dispersing aids,

f) at least one rheological modifier,

g) at least one antifoam agent,

h) optionally other formulants, and

i) at least one compatibilizer.

In a preferred embodiment the compounds a) to i) are present in an amount of

a) 10 to 600 g/1, preferably 50 to 400 g/1, more preferably 100 to 400 g/1, most preferred 200 to 360 g/1

b) 1 to 80 g/1, preferably 4 to 60 g/1, more preferably 4 to 50 g/1, most preferred 10 to 30 g/1 c) 1 to 70 g/1, preferably 2.5 to 50 g/1, more preferably 5 to 45 g/1, most preferred 10 to 40 g/1 d) 1 to 80 g/1, preferably 2.5 to 60 g/1, more preferably 5 to 55 g/1, most preferred 10 to 50 g/1 e) 1 to 100 g/1, preferably 2.5 to 80 g/1, more preferably 5 to 60 g/1, most preferred 20 to 45 g/1 f) 0.5 to 60 g/1, preferably 1 to 40 g/1, more preferably 1 to 20 g/1, most preferred 1 to 15 g/1 g) 1 to 25 g/1, preferably 1 to 20 g/1, more preferably 1 to 15 g/1, most preferred 1 to 12 g/1 h) 0 to 150 g/1, preferably 1 to 100 g/1, more preferably 5 to 60 g/1, most preferred 20 to 45 g/1 i) 1 to 70 g/1, preferably 2.5 to 50 g/1, more preferably 5 to 45 g/1, most preferred 10 to 40 g/1 wherein water is added to volume (1 litre).

In an alternative embodiment, wherein the formulation is used without dilution (e.g. direct application by UAVs), the compounds a) to i) are present in an amount of

a) 0.5 to 500 g/1, preferably 1 to 400 g/1, more preferably 5 to 200 g/1, most preferred 10 to

100 g/1

b) 0.2 to 60 g/1, preferably 0.4 to 40 g/1, more preferably 0.6 to 25 g/1, most preferred 1 to 20 g/1

c) 0.2 to 70 g/1, preferably 0.4 to 50 g/1, more preferably 0.6 to 35 g/1, most preferred 1 to 20 g/1

d) 0.2 to 60 g/1, preferably 0.4 to 50 g/1, more preferably 0.6 to 40 g/1, most preferred 1 to 20 g/1

e) 0.01 to 100 g/1, preferably 0.05 to 80 g/1, more preferably 0.1 to 60 g/1, most preferred 1 to 45 g/1

f) 0.1 to 60 g/1, preferably 0.5 to 30 g/1, more preferably 0.7 to 20 g/1, most preferred 1 to 15 g/1

g) 0.001 to 25 g/1, preferably 0.01 to 20 g/1, more preferably 0.1 to 15 g/1, most preferred 0.2 to 10 g/1

h) 0 to 180 g/1, preferably 1 to 150 g/1, more preferably 1 to 140 g/1, most preferred 2 to 120 g/1

i) 0.2 to 70 g/1, preferably 0.4 to 50 g/1, more preferably 0.6 to 35 g/1, most preferred 1 to 20 g/1

wherein water is added to volume (1 litre).

Moreover, an alternative embodiment is directed to agrochemical compositions as described above, however, with components b) and d) as optional components:

Therefore, an aqueous dispersion containing the following components is also:

a) at least one agrochemical active compound, which is solid at room temperature, b) optionally mono-and diesters of sulfosuccinate metal salts with branched or linear alcohols comprising 1-10 carbon atoms, in particular alkali metal salts, more particular sodium salts, and most particular sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate;

c) at least one polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane,

d) optionally an emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion with Tg in the range from -100°C to 30°C,

e) one or more additives selected from the group consisting of non-ionic or anionic surfactants or dispersing aids,

f) at least one rheological modifiers

g) at least one antifoam agent,

h) optionally other formulants,

i) at least one polyalkylene oxide block copolymer, preferably a polyalkylene oxide block copolymer (i) which has a molecular weight (weight-average molecular weight Mw) of 1,500 to 6,000 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 8 to 45%, preferably a molecular weight of 1,800 to 5,000 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 10 to 35%, more preferably a molecular weight of 2,000 to 4,000 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 15 to 30% and especially preferred a molecular weight of 2,200 to 3,000 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 18 to 22%.

If not otherwise indicated, % in this application means percent by weight.

Moreover, it was found that a sprayable liquid for low volume application, as described above, was solved by compositions, comprising adjuvant combinations comprising at least one of each compounds b), c) and i).

Therefore, another example is an adjuvant combination for agrochemical compositions with low spray volumes.

In said adjuvant combination preferably compound

b) is sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate,

c) is polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane,

i) is a polyalkylene oxide block copolymer (i).

In a preferred embodiment, the compounds b, c and i are present in a ratio from 1 : 1 : 1 to 1 :4:3, preferably from 1 : 1 : 1 to 1 :3 :3, and most preferred in a ratio from 1 : 1.5: 1.5 to 1 : 2.5:2.5.

In a preferred embodiment, the compounds c and i are present in a ratio from 4: 1 to 1 :4, preferably from 2: 1 to 1 :2, and most preferred in a ratio from 4:3 to 3 :5 .

Moreover, the amount of said surfactants b, c and i in the agrochemical compositions described here is from 10 to 200 g/1, preferable from 15 to 150 g/1, more preferred from 20 to 120 g/1, and most preferred from 40 to 100 g/1, wherein preferably ratios given above apply.

Furthermore, it was found that a sprayable liquid for low volume application, as described above, was solved by compositions, comprising alternative adjuvant combinations comprising at least one of each compounds b), c) and d).

Therefore, another example is an alternative adjuvant combination for agrochemical compositions with low spray volumes.

In said adjuvant combination preferably compound

b) is sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate,

c) is polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane,

d) at least one emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion with Tg in the range from -100°C to 30°C.

In a preferred embodiment, the compounds b, c and d are present in a ratio from 1 : 1 : 1 to 1 : 6:4, preferably from 1 : 1 : 1 to 1 :5:3, and most preferred in a ratio from 1 : 1.5: 1.5 to 1 :3:3.

In a preferred embodiment, the compounds c and d are present in a ratio from 4: 1 to 1 :4, preferably from 3: 1 to 1 :3, and most preferred in a ratio from 2: 1 to 1 :2.

Moreover, the amount of said surfactants/adjuvants b, c and d in the agrochemical compositions of this example is from 10 to 200 g/1, preferable from 15 to 160 g/1, more preferred from 20 to 140 g/1, and most preferred from 40 to 130 g/1, wherein preferably ratios given above apply.

A Suitable compounds a) of the compositions are agrochemical active compounds which are solid at room temperature.

Solid, agrochemical active compounds a) are to be understood in the present composition as meaning all substances customary for plant treatment, whose melting point is above 20°C. Fungicides, bactericides, insecticides, acaricides, nematicides, molluscicides, herbicides, plant growth regulators, plant nutrients, biological actives substances and repellents may preferably be mentioned.

The active compounds identified here by their common names are known and are described, for example, in the pesticide handbook (“The Pesticide Manual” 16th Ed., British Crop Protection Council 2012) or can be found on the Internet (e.g.

http://www.alanwood.net/pesticides). The classification is based on the current IRAC Mode of Action Classification Scheme at the time of filing of this patent application.

In an example, the insecticide a) is one or more of: abamectin; acetamiprid; acrinathrin; acynonapyr; benzpyrimoxan; broflanilide; clothianidin; cyantraniliprole;

chlorantraniliprole; cyclaniliprole; dicloromezotiaz; dodecadienol; flubendiamide; fluhexafon; imidacloprid; nitenpyram, chlorfenapyr; emamectin; ethiprole; fipronil; flonicamid;

flupyradifurone; indoxacarb; metaflumizone; methoxyfenozid; milbemycin; oxazosulfyl; pyridaben; pyridalyl; silafluofen; spinosad; spirodiclofen; spiromesifen; spirotetramat;

sulfoxaflor; tetraniliprole; thiacloprid; thiamethoxam; triflumezopyrim; triflumuron; and other insecticides can be used.

In an example, the fungicide a) is one or more of: amisulbrom; bixafen;

fenamidone; fenhexamid; fluopicolide; fluopyram; fluoxastrobin; iprovalicarb; isotianil;

pencycuron; penflufen; propineb; prothioconazole; tebuconazole; trifloxystrobin;

ametoctradin; amisulbrom; azoxystrobin; benthiavalicarb-isopropyl; benzovindiflupyr;

boscalid; carbendazim; chlorothanonil; cyazofamid; cyflufenamid; cymoxanil; cyproconazole; dichlobentiazox; difenoconazole; dipymetitrone; ethaboxam; epoxiconazole; famoxadone; fenpicoxamid; florylpicoxamid; fluazinam; fluopimomide; fludioxonil; fluindapyr;

fluquinconazole; flusilazole; flutianil; fluxapyroxad; ipfentrifluconazole; ipflufenoquin;

isopyrazam; kresoxim-methyl; lyserphenvalpyr; mancozeb; mandipropamid;

mefentrifluconazole; oxathiapiprolin; penthiopyrad; picarbutrazox; picoxystrobin;

probenazole; proquinazid; pydiflumetofen; pyraclostrobin; pyraziflumid; pyridachlometyl; quinofumelin; sedaxane; tebufloquin; tetraconazole; valiphenalate; zoxamide; N-cyclopropyl-3-(difluoromethyl)-5-fluoro-N-(2-isopropylbenzyl)-l-methyl-lH-pyrazole-4-carboxamide; 2-(3-[2-(l-{ [3,5 -bis(difluoromethyl)- 1 H-pyrazol- 1 -yl] acetyl } -piperidin-4-yl)- 1 , 3 -thiazol-4-yl] -4,5-dihydro-l,2-oxazol-5-yl}-3-chlorophenyl methanesulfonat; and other fungicides can be used.

In an example, the herbicide a) comprises all applicable forms such as acids, salts, ester, with at least one applicable form): aclonifen; amidosulfuron; bensulfuron-methyl; bromoxynil; bromoxynil potassium; chlorsulfuron; clodinafop; clodinafop-propargyl;

clopyralid; cyclopyranil; 2,4-D, 2,4-D-dimethylammonium, -diolamin, -isopropylammonium, -potassium, -triisopropanolammonium, and -trolamine; 2,4-DB, 2,4-DB dimethylammonium, -potassium, and -sodium; desmedipham; dicamba; diflufenican; diuron; ethofumesate;

ethoxysulfuron; fenoxaprop-P; fenquinotrione; flazasulfuron; florasulam; florpyrauxifen; florpyrauxifen-benzyl; flufenacet; fluroxypyr; flurtamone; fomesafen; fomesafen- sodium;

foramsulfuron; glufosinate; glufosinate-ammonium; glyphosate; glyphosate-isopropylammonium, -potassium, and trimesium; halauxifen; halauxifen-methyl;

halosulfuron-methyl; indaziflam; iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium; isoproturon; isoxaflutole; lenacil; MCPA; MCPA-isopropylammonium, -potassium, and sodium; MCPB; MCPB-sodium; mesosulfuron-methyl; mesotrione; metosulam; metribuzin; metsulfuron-methyl; napropamide; napropamide-M; nicosulfuron; pendimethalin; penoxsulam; phenmedipham; picolinafen ; pinoxaden; propoxycarbazone-sodium; pyrasulfotole; pyroxasulfone;

pyroxsulam; rimsulfuron; saflufenacil; sulcotrion; tefuryltrione; tembotrione; thiencarbazone-methyl; tolpyralate; topramezone; triafamone; tribenuron-methyl; trifludimoxazin; and other herbicides can be used.

Preferred safeners a) or h) are: Mefenpyr-diethyl, Cyprosulfamide, Isoxadifen-ethyl, (RS)-l-methylhexyl (5-chloroquinolin-8-yloxy)acetate (Cloquintocet-mexyl, CAS-No. : 99607-70-2), metcamifen.

Suitable active ingredients may optionally additionally include soluble active ingredients for example dissolved in the aqueous carrier phase and/or liquid active ingredient(s) for example dispersed as an emulsion in the aqueous carrier phase.

All named active ingredients as described here above can be present in the form of the free compound and/or, if their functional groups enable this, an agriculturally acceptable salt thereof. Furthermore, mesomeric forms as well as stereoisomeres or enantiomeres, where applicable, shall be enclosed, as these modifications are well known to the skilled artisan, as well as polymorphic modifications.

B Suitable alkylsulfosuccinates b) are mono-and diesters of sulfo succinate metal salts with branched or linear alcohols comprising 1-10 carbon atoms, in particular alkali metal salts, more particular sodium salts, and most particular sodium dioctylsulfosuccinate;

C Suitable organosilicone ethoxylates c) are organomodified polysiloxanes/ trisiloxane alkoxylates with the following CAS No. 27306-78-1, 67674-67-3, 134180-76-0, e.g., Silwet® L77, Silwet® 408, Silwet® 806, BreakThru® S240, BreakThru® S278;

D Suitable acrylic based emulsion polymers or polymer dispersions and styrene based emulsion polymers or polymer dispersions d) are aqueous polymer dispersions with a Tg in the range from -100°C to 30°C, preferably between -60°C and 20°C, more preferably between -50°C and 10°C, most preferably between -45°C and 5°C, for example Acronal V215, Acronal 3612,

Licomer ADH 205 and Atplus FA. Particularly preferred are Licomer ADH205, and Atplus FA.

Preferably, the polymer is selected from the group consisting of acrylic polymers, styrene polymers, vinyl polymers and derivatives thereof, polyolefins, polyurethanes and natural polymers and derivatives thereof.

In a preferred embodiement the polymer, as described above, has a molecular weight of no more than 40000, preferably no more than 10000.

In a preferred embodiment the polymer D is an emulsion polymer as described in WO 2017/202684.

The glass transition temperature (Tg) is known for many polymers and is determined, if not defmded otherwise, according to ASTM El 356-08 (2014) "Standard Test Method for Assignment of the Glass Transition Temperatures by Differential Scanning Calorimetry" wherein the sample is dried prior to DSC at 110°C for one hour to eliminate effect of water and/or solvent, DSC sample size of 10-15 mg, measured from -100°C to 100°C at 20°C/min under N2, with Tg defined as midpoint of the transition region.

E Suitable non-ionic surfactants or dispersing aids e) are all substances of this type which can customarily be employed in agrochemical agents. Preferably, polyethylene oxide-polypropylene oxide block copolymers, polyethylene glycol ethers of branched or linear alcohols, reaction products of fatty acids or fatty acid alcohols with ethylene oxide and/or propylene oxide, furthermore polyvinyl alcohol, polyoxyalkylenamine derivatives, polyvinylpyrrolidone, copolymers of polyvinyl alcohol and polyvinylpyrrolidone, and copolymers of (meth)acrylic acid and (meth)acrylic acid esters, furthermore branched or linear alkyl ethoxylates and alkylaryl ethoxylates, where polyethylene oxide-sorbitan fatty acid esters may be mentioned by way of example. Out of the examples mentioned above selected classes can be optionally phosphated, sulphonated or sulphated and neutralized with bases.

Possible anionic surfactants e) are all substances of this type which can customarily be employed in agrochemical agents. Alkali metal, alkaline earth metal and ammonium salts of alkylsulphonic or alkylphospohric acids as well as alkylarylsulphonic or alkylarylphosphoric acids are preferred. A further preferred group of anionic surfactants or dispersing aids are alkali metal, alkaline earth metal and ammonium salts of polystyrenesulphonic acids, salts of polyvinylsulphonic acids, salts of alkylnaphthalene sulphonic acids, salts of naphthalene-

sulphonic acid-formaldehyde condensation products, salts of condensation products of naphthalenesulphonic acid, phenolsulphonic acid and formaldehyde, and salts of lignosulphonic acid.

F A rheological modifier is an additive that when added to the recipe at a concentration that reduces the gravitational separation of the dispersed active ingredient during storage results in a substantial increase in the viscosity at low shear rates. Low shear rates are defined as 0.1 s 1 and below and a substantial increase as greater than x2. The viscosity can be measured by a rotational shear rheometer.

Suitable rheological modifiers f) by way of example are:

Polysaccharides including xanthan gum, guar gum and hydroxyethyl cellulose. Examples are Kelzan®, Rhodopol® G and 23, Satiaxane® CX911 and Natrosol® 250 range.

Clays including montmorillonite, bentonite, sepeolite, attapulgite, laponite, hectorite. Examples are Veegum® R, Van Gel® B, Bentone® CT, HC, EW, Pangel® Ml 00, M200, M300, S, M, W, Attagel® 50, Laponite® RD,

Fumed and precipitated silica, examples are Aerosil® 200, Siponat® 22.

Preferred are xanthan gum, montmorillonite clays, bentonite clays and fumed silica.

G Suitable antifoam substances g) are all substances which can customarily be employed in agrochemical agents for this purpose. Silicone oils, silicone oil preparations are preferred. Examples are Silcolapse® 426 and 432 from Bluestar Silicones, Silfoam® SRE and SC 132 from Wacker, SAF-184® fron Silchem, Foam-Clear ArraPro-S® from Basildon Chemical Company Ltd, SAG 1572 and SAG 30 from Momentive [Dimethyl siloxanes and silicones, CAS No. 63148-62-9] Preferred is SAG 1572.

H Suitable other formulants h) are selected from biocides, antifreeze, colourants, pH adjusters, buffers, stabilisers, antioxidants, inert filling materials, humectants, crystal growth inhibitors, micronutirients by way of example are:

Possible preservatives are all substances which can customarily be employed in agrochemical agents for this purpose. Suitable examples for preservatives are preparations containing 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one [CAS-No. 26172-55-4], 2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one [CAS-No. 2682-20-4] or 1.2-benzisothiazol-3(2H)-one [CAS-No. 2634-33-5] Examples which may be mentioned are Preventol® D7 (Lanxess), Kathon® CG/ICP (Dow), Acticide® SPX (Thor GmbH) and Proxel® GXL (Arch Chemicals).

Suitable antifreeze substances are all substances which can customarily be employed in agrochemical agents for this purpose. Suitable examples are propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, urea and glycerine.

Possible colourants are all substances which can customarily be employed in agrochemical agents for this purpose. Titanium dioxide, carbon black, zinc oxide, blue pigments, Brilliant Blue FCF, red pigments and Permanent Red FGR may be mentioned by way of example.

Possible pH adjusters and buffers are all substances which can customarily be employed in agrochemical agents for this purpose. Citric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, sodium hydrogen phosphate (Na2HP04), sodium dihydrogen phosphate (NaH2P04), potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KH2PO4), potassium hydrogen phosphate (K2HPO4), may be mentioned by way of example.

Suitable stabilisers and antioxidants are all substances which can customarily be employed in agrochemical agents for this purpose. Butylhydroxytoluene [3.5-Di-tert-butyl-4-hydroxytoluol, CAS-No. 128-37-0] is preferred.

I Compatibilizing agent selected from the group consisting of

i. a polyalkylene oxide block copolymer (i), preferably a polyalkylene oxide block copolymer which has a molecular weight (weight-average molecular weight Mw) of 1,500 to 6,000 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 8 to 45%, more preferably a molecular weight of 1,800 to 5,000 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 10 to 35%, even more preferably a molecular weight of 2,000 to 4,000 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 15 to 30% and especially preferred a molecular weight of 2,200 to 3,000 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 18 to 22%;

ii. block-copolymer of polyethylene oxide and polypropylene oxide other than defined above; iii. ethoxylated branched alcohols (e.g. Genapol® X-type) with 2-20 EO units;

iv. methyl end-capped, ethoxylated branched alcohols (e.g. Genapol® XM-type) comprising 2- 20 EO units;

v. ethoxylated coconut alcohols (e.g. Genapol® C-types) comprising 2-20 EO units;

vi. ethoxylated C12/15 alcohols (e.g. Synperonic® A-types) comprising 2-20 EO units;

vii. propoxy-ethoxylated alcohols, branched or linear, e.g. Antarox® B/848, Atlas® G5000, Lucramul® HOT 5902;

viii. ethoxylated diacetylene-diols (e.g. Surfynol® 4xx-range);

ix. propoxy-ethoxylated fatty acids, Me end-capped, e.g. Leofat® OC0503M;

x. alkyl ether citrate surfactants (e.g. Adsee® CE range, Akzo Nobel);

xi. alkylpolysaccharides (e.g. Agnique® PG8107, PG8105, Atplus® 438, AL-2559, AL-2575); xii. ethoxylated mono- or diesters of glycerine comprising fatty acids with 8-18 carbon atoms and an average of 10-40 EO units (e.g. Crovol® range);

xiii. castor oil ethoxylates comprising an average of 5-40 EO units (e.g. Berol® range, Emulsogen® EL range).

In a most preferred embodiment the compatibilizer is polyalkylene oxide block copolymer i), more preferred with a molecular weight of 2,400 to 2,500 g/mol and an ethylene oxide content of 20%.

If not otherwise defined in this application, the molecular weight refers to the weight-average molecular weight Mw which is determined by GPC in methylene chloride at 25 °C with polystyrene as the standard.

The formulations were prepared according to the following method.

Method 1:

The method of the preparation of suspension concentrate formulations are known in the art and can be produced by known methods familiar to those skilled in the art. A 2% gel of the xanthan (f) in water and the biocides (h) was prepared with low shear stirring. The active ingredient(s) (a), non-ionic and anionic dispersants (e), a portion of the antifoam (g) and other formulants (h) were mixed to form a slurry, first mixed with a high shear rotor-stator mixer (Ultra-Turrax®) to reduce the particle size D(v,0.9) to approximately 50 microns, then passed through one or more bead mills (Eiger® 250 Mini Motormill) to achieve a particles size

D(v,0.9) typically 1 to 15 microns as required for the biological performance of the active ingredient(s). Those skilled in the art will appreciate that this can vary for different active ingredients. The remaining components: mono-and diesters of sulfosuccinate metal salts (b), polyalkyleneoxide modified heptamethyltrisiloxane (c), emulsion polymer or polymer dispersion (d), portion of the antifoam (g) and xanthan gel prepared above were added and mixed in with low shear stirring until homogeneous. Finally the pH was adjusted to 7.0 (+/- 0.2) with acid or base (h).

Materials:

List of materials., CAS-Numbers etc

Table I: Exemplified trade names and CAS-No’s of preferred compounds b)


Table II Exemplified trade names and CAS-No’s of preferred compounds c)


Table III: Exemplified trade names and chemical descriptions of preferred compounds d)

Table IV: Exemplified trade names and CAS-No’s of preferred compounds e)

Table V: Exemplified trade names and CAS-No’s of preferred compounds f)

Table VI: Exemplified trade names and CAS-No’s of preferred compounds g)

Table VII: Exemplified trade names and CAS-No’s of preferred compounds h)

Table VIII: Exemplified trade names and CAS-No’s of preferred compounds i)


Example 1:

Formulations were prepared with the following recipes:

Table IX. Composition of recipes 1, 2 and 3.


The method of preparation used was according to Method 1.

In an example 1 litre each of recipes 2 and 3 were diluted in 7 litres of water and sprayed by a Maruyama MMC940AC drone fitted with two Yamaha flat fan nozzles flying at a height of 2 m at an application rate of 8 1/ha onto leaf sections taken from rice, soybean and corn plants. A fluorescent marker (Tinopal OB®) was added and the spray coverage determined from analysis of images obtained under UV illumination. The drone flew at a speed of 15-20 km/h.

Table X Leaf coverage after spray application by drone at 8 1/ha.


The results shown in table X demonstrate that recipe 2 (for the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application) showed a much improved wetting and coverage of each of the leaf surfaces at a low spray volume of 8 litres per hectare.

In an example recipes 2 and 3 were diluted at a rate of 1 litre of SC in 7 litres of water and sprayed by a Maruyama MMC940AC drone fitted with two Yamaha flat fan nozzles flying at a height of 2 m at an application rate of 8 1/ha onto rice plants (cv. Koshihikari) in pots at the growth stage of full tillering with the same application conditions as above. The rice plants were inoculated with rhizoctonia solani 17 days after application followed by incubation at 25°C and 100% relative humidity for 7 days under dark conditions. The rice plants were then grown in a greenhouse for 18 days and assessed for disease control.

Table XI disease control after spray application by drone at 8 1/ha.


The results in table XI demonstrate that recipe 2 (for the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application) gave enhanced control of disease at a low spray volume of 8 litres per hectare.

In an example recipes 2 and 3 were diluted at a rate of 1 litre of SC in a range of water volumes ranging from 1200 1/ha to 4 1/ha and along with a small amount of a fluorescent label and were sprayed by a back-pack sprayer onto outdoor rice plants (japonica) fitted with (Teejet) Conejet® TXVS nozzles (1200-600 1/ha TXVS-8, 300-4 1/ha TXVS-2) at the growth stage of ripening. The spray deposits on isolated rice leaves were photographed under UV illumination and the coverage of the spray and mean spray deposit area was measured using ImageJ image analysis software (Fiji package, www.fiji.com).

Table XII Leaf coverage and spray deposit area at different spray volumes.


The results in table XII demonstrate that recipe 2 (for the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application) remarkably gave significantly improved coverage at 50 to 4 1/ha compared to the reference recipe 3. At 100 1/ha the coverage was significantly lower for recipe 2 demonstrating the importance of low spray volumes less than or equal to 50 1/ha for achieving a significantly higher leaf coverage of the spray mixture. At 200 to 1200 1/ha a higher coverage was observed from the greater spray volume. Importantly, recipe 2 sprayed at 4 to 50 1/ha achieved a comparable coverage to the reference recipe 3 at 600 1/ha

demonstrating that the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application can achieve comparable coverage to reference formulations sprayed at much higher conventional spray volumes. However, the reference formulation 3 did not achieve comparable coverage at low spray volumes less than 100 1/ha with the coverage decreasing as the spray volume decreased. These results are plotted in Fig. 7.

The same enhancement of coverage can be seen with the mean spray deposit area, recipe 2 (for the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application) remarkably also produced spray deposits with significantly higher spreading between 50 and 4 1/ha. Higher spray volumes of 100 and 200 1/ha produced deposits with much lower areas as did the reference recipe at 4 to 300 1/ha.

Both of these results demonstrate the advantage of the described sprayable liquid at low volume spray application between 4 and 50 litres per hectare.

Example 2: Low spray volumes

A formulation were prepared with the following recipes:

Table XIII. Composition of recipe 4.



The method of preparation used was according to Method 1

In an example recipe 4 for the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application and the commercial product Nativo® 300 SC (Bayer AG, registration number L8942 South Africa, code 102000008381) which contains 100 g/1 of trifloxystrobin and 200 g/1 of tebuconazole were applied by spray application to paddy rice using a low spray volume of 60 1/ha and assessed for control of neck blast disease after two applications. The treated crops were then harvested and the yield measured.

Table XIV. Biological results for recipe 4 and Nativo® SC.


The results in table XIV show that at the low spray volume of 60 1/ha recipe 4 or the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application gave both significantly higher disease control and increased yield compared to the commercial reference Nativo® SC.

Example 3: Insecticides

Formulations were prepared with the following recipes:

Table XV: Compositions of recipes 5, 6 and 7.


The method of preparation used was according to Method 1.

Recipes 5, 6 and 7 along with a small amount of a fluorescent label were sprayed onto rice leaves at a spray volume of 10 1/ha and formulation rate of 1.0 1/ha and the coverage of the spray measured from the fluorescence under UV illumination using ImageJ image analysis software (Fiji package, www.fiji.com).

Table XVI Leaf coverage results


The results show that recipe 5 for the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application showed significantly higher coverage than the reference recipes 6 and 7 at a low spray volume of 10 litres per hectare.

Example 6: Herbicides

Formulations were prepared with the following recipes:

Table XVII: Compositions of recipes 8 and 9.



The method of preparation used was according to Method 1

Recipes 8 and 9 along with a small amount of a fluorescent label were sprayed onto rice leaves at a spray volume of 10 1/ha and formulation rate of 0.5 1/ha and the coverage of the spray measured from the fluorescence under UV illumination using ImageJ image analysis software (Fiji package, www.fiji.com).

Table XVIII: Leaf coverage results


The results show that recipe 8 for the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray application showed significantly higher coverage than the reference recipe 9 at a low spray volume of 10 litres per hectare.

Fig. 6 shows images of spray deposits on rice, soybean and corn leaves. The top images show the results for a reference formulation (recipe 3) and the bottom images show the results for a sprayable liquid for low volume application as described here (recipe 2) after spray application by drone at a spray volume of 8 1/ha.

Technical supporting notes:

The kinetic energy (KE) of spray droplets depends both on the droplet size (mass m) and droplet velocity (v) where KE = ½mv2, spray application by UAV results in a marked

increase in the kinetic energy of the spray droplets from the high downdraught from the rotors, high kinetic energy results in higher rebound of the spray from leaf surfaces. As the droplet’s kinetic energy increases the dynamic surface tension needs to decrease to prevent an increase in the spray rebound. However, this is addressed by the described sprayable liquid for low volume application.

Dynamic wetters are small adjuvants/surfactants that can diffuse rapidly to the air- water interface reducing the surface tension and increasing the leaf adhesion which lessen the droplet recoil, as provided by the described sprayable liquid for low volume application.

• Dynamic wetters, a formulation without dynamic wetters may have sufficient spray

retention with a fine spray, but with a coarse low drift spray the spray drops will have much higher kinetic energy and consequently reduced spray retention.

Wash-off by rain is potentially a route to high losses of active ingredients from the crop, and therefore rain-fast additives can be built into formulations to mitigate this, as provided by the described sprayable liquid for low volume application.

• The choice of formulation is a complex combination of many factors. For particulate formulations, this is most readily achieved with advanced flowable formulations.

Biodelivery is governed by the micro-structure of the spray deposits, especially the distribution of the active ingredient(s) and adjuvants. For particulate systems this is very complex and can involve the formation of‘coffee ring structures’, and is addressed by the described sprayable liquid for low volume application.

• The deposit micro-structure is dependent on both the formulation design and the spray volume, with higher biodelivery achieved with low spray volumes well below full leaf coverage for poorly soluble active ingredients.

• Leaf coverage can also apply with low spray volumes, depending on the required

biodelivery of each active ingredient. For enhanced penetration low coverage can give enhanced uptake; for flowables with adjuvants this can be from compact‘coffee ring’ deposits.

Spray volume. For high coverage the addition of high spreading adjuvants such as high spreading adjuvants/surfactants (e.g. organosilicones) can deliver good coverage at low spray volumes, as provided by the described sprayable liquid for low volume application. For a relatively low amount of‘spreading surfactant’ enhanced spreading can be observed from spray volumes equal to or below 601/ha. As the spray volume is decreased the concentration of the adjuvant/surfactant increases with enhanced spreading continuing even to the low spray volumes used in aerial application of 8 1/ha and below.

For wetting to occur it is necessary for the contact angle Q < 90° since for Q < 90° leaf surface ‘micro-structure’ enhances wetting while for Q > 900 leaf surface‘micro-structure’ enhances non-wetting, with the described sprayable liquid for low volume application leading to movement toward smaller contact angles.

The target spray volume at which the adjuvant concentration becomes sufficient for enhancing spray retention and leaf wetting with application via a vehicle as discussed above should be equal to or less than 60 1/ha with adjustments where required, with the upper limit providing the onset of a good balance between the various competing requirements. This is achieved by the described sprayable liquid for low volume application.

All these effects described under supporting notes, relate to an incredibly complex juxtaposition of elements relating to how liquids can be sprayed on crops. It has been found that the described sprayable liquid for low volume spray applications provides surprising beneficial effects, provided by an optimum combination of these elements that can compete against one another. In the described sprayable liquid an optimum sprayable liquid with a combination of these elements is provided.

In another exemplary embodiment, a computer program or computer program element is provided that is characterized by being configured to execute the method steps of the method according to one of the preceding embodiments, on an appropriate system.

The computer program element might therefore be stored on a computer unit, which might also be part of an embodiment. This computing unit may be configured to perform or induce performing of the steps of the method described above. Moreover, it may be configured to operate the components of the above described apparatus and/or system. The computing unit can be configured to operate automatically and/or to execute the orders of a user. A computer program may be loaded into a working memory of a data processor. The data processor may thus be equipped to carry out the method according to one of the preceding embodiments.

This exemplary embodiment of the invention covers both, a computer program that right from the beginning uses the invention and computer program that by means of an update turns an existing program into a program that uses invention.

Further on, the computer program element might be able to provide all necessary steps to fulfil the procedure of an exemplary embodiment of the method as described above.

According to a further exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a computer readable medium, such as a CD-ROM, USB stick or the like, is presented wherein the computer readable medium has a computer program element stored on it which computer program element is described by the preceding section.

A computer program may be stored and/or distributed on a suitable medium, such as an optical storage medium or a solid state medium supplied together with or as part of other hardware, but may also be distributed in other forms, such as via the internet or other wired or wireless telecommunication systems.

However, the computer program may also be presented over a network like the World Wide Web and can be downloaded into the working memory of a data processor from such a network. According to a further exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a medium for making a computer program element available for downloading is provided, which computer program element is arranged to perform a method according to one of the previously described embodiments of the invention.

It has to be noted that embodiments of the invention are described with reference to different subject matters. In particular, some embodiments are described with reference to method type claims whereas other embodiments are described with reference to the device type claims. However, a person skilled in the art will gather from the above and the following description that, unless otherwise notified, in addition to any combination of features belonging to one type of subject matter also any combination between features relating to different subject matters is considered to be disclosed with this application.

However, all features can be combined providing synergetic effects that are more than the simple summation of the features.

While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, such illustration and description are to be considered illustrative or exemplary and not restrictive. The invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. Other variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by those skilled in the art in practicing a claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the dependent claims.

In the claims, the word“comprising” does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article“a” or“an” does not exclude a plurality. A single processor or other unit may fulfil the functions of several items re-cited in the claims. The mere fact that certain measures are re-cited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a

combination of these measures cannot be used to advantage. Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope.