Computers and electronics in agriculture vol:71 issue:2 pages:128-136
The current trend in modelling flow phenomena within trees such as in orchards follows the assumption of the space occupied by the trees as a porous and horizontally homogeneous medium to avoid the flow details associated with the individual plants. This being sufficient at a larger field or regional scale much has to be done at a plant scale to analyse the flow details within the plant and its elements especially for sensitive agricultural operations such as spraying. This article presents an integrated 3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of airflow from a two-fan air-assisted cross-flow orchard sprayer through non-leafed orchard pear trees of 3 m average height. In this model the effect of the solid part of the canopy on airflow was modelled by directly introducing the actual 3D architecture of the canopy into the CFD model. The effect of small canopy parts, such as very short and thin branches and flowers that were not incorporated in the geometrical model, on airflow was simulated by introducing source-sink terms in the Reynolds averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) momentum and k-epsilon turbulence equations in a sub-domain created around the branches. This model was implemented in a CFD code of ANSYS-CFX-11.0 (ANSYS, Inc., Canonsburg, PA, USA). In this work it was possible to link the real 3D architecture of pear canopy into a CFD code of CFX. The model was able to capture the local effects of the canopy and its parts on wind and sprayer airflow directly by inserting the tree structure into the model which gave realistic results. The model showed that within the injection region of the sprayer there was an average reduction of the jet velocity by 1 m s(-1) for a distance of 2.3 m from the sprayer outlet due to the presence of leafless pear canopy. This reduction was variable at different vertical positions due to the difference in the canopy, density. Maximal effect of the canopy was observed in the middle height of the trees between 0.25 m and 2.5 m which is the denser region with a bunch of several branches. The maximum velocity difference observed between these two positions was 1.35 m s(-1) at 1.75m height. Thus, regions of high and low air velocity zones of the sprayer due to the variable branch density of the pear tree were predicted. The effects of wind speed and direction on the air jet from the sprayer were investigated using the model. For a cross- (direction of 90 degrees) wind speed of 5 m s(-1) there was about 2 m s(-1) reduction in the sprayer jet velocity at the jet centre and 0.5 m horizontal shift of the jet centre towards the wind direction. Generally there was a decrease in the jet velocity with increasing cross-wind and decreasing wind direction with respect to the jet direction. 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.