ASABE Hosts Field Day for Policy Makers, Regulators

Herald-Palladium image of agricultural drone sprayer

Aerial drone crop sprayer demonstrations are held Monday during an ISO Field Day hosted by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers at the Michigan State University Research and Extension Center in Benton Township. Don Campbell/ HP staff

Reprinted with permission by the Herald-Palladium, Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The latest and greatest in agriculture spraying was on display Monday in Southwest Michigan.

Regulators, manufacturers and international delegates gathered at the Michigan State University Extension Office in Benton Township ahead of the International Standards Organization's annual plenary meeting.

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, based in St. Joseph, is hosting this year's international plenary meeting. Delegates from 19 countries such as India, Germany, Brazil, Switzerland and Japan have flown to Southwest Michigan to update and revise drone and spraying standards.

The field day on Monday was an opportunity for those setting standards and those setting regulations to connect and learn about the innovation in crop spraying, said Adam Barlow. Barlow is a delegate representing the United States and works for John Deere as a senior standards and safety engineer.

"Today was really focused on trying to bring policy and standardization folks together ..." he said. "By having them here today to some of the technology and talk about that, (we're) trying to get more engagement into our committees."

Barlow, who works in Des Moines, Iowa, said it's been interesting to observe the different needs of Southwest Michigan specialty crop farmers, as he helps create standards for that equipment.

One machine on display was GUSS - Global Unmanned Spray System - a combination tractor and sprayer. Shaped like a silver bullet, the sprayer won ASABE's highest prize for agricultural technology in 2019. A remote operator, using a laptop, can control four to eight of these autonomous orchard sprayers at a time.

Mark Ledebuhr, an American delegate and private consultant for spray technology, said this event helps delegates better understand stakeholder needs.

"Tech is never the limiting factor. It's always some other institutional disincentive that slows down our progress," Ledebuhr said.

Regulators and ISO delegates also observed a drone sprayer, as well as a sprayer which used LIDAR to adjust fungicide or pesticide amounts automatically.

This ISO plenary was last held in the U.S. in 2011. ASABE has discussed bringing delegates to Southwest Michigan for the last four years and have actively planned for this event for two years.

Jean Walsh, an ASABE standards administrator, said having international delegates come to America helps them understand the concerns American farmers and manufacturers face - particularly the sheer size of the country.

"It's hard, especially in a virtual environment to conceive what our problems are over here," she said. "Why are we insisting that this has to be the way it is? And if they don't understand, it's because they don't deal with the same scope that we do in the U.S."

By Juliana Knot Staff Writer at The Herald-Palladium
Contact:, 932-0360, Twitter: @knotjuliana

A laptop is used to remotely operate an unmanned spray vehicle

Chase Schapansky, left, uses a laptop to remotely operate a GUSS—Global Unmanned Spray System—during an ISO Field Day held at the Michigan State University Research and Extension Center in Benton Township.

An unmanned spray vehicle travels through an orchard as onlookers record and photograph

A GUSS—Global Unmanned Spray System—travels through an orchard during an ISO Field Day held at the Michigan State University Research and Extension Center in Benton Township.

A remotely operated unmanned vehicle sprays orchard trees

Chase Schapansky remotely operates a GUSS, Global Unmanned Spray System, during an ISO Field Day held at the Michigan State University Research and Extension Center in Benton Township.