Method to Measure Spatial Pesticide Distribution

At a Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a method to evaluate the spatial distribution of pesticides within any crop.  Using simple filter paper adhered to the leaves of crops and dye added to any desired pesticide mixture, a light-box camera system is able to accurately analyze pesticide distribution.  The novel method can be used to optimize spray parameters and evaluate pesticide distribution scaled to any size.


Understanding the spatial distribution of pesticides in the environment is critical for controlling their use and understanding their impact on humans and the environment. The management of crop diseases depends on the efficient and adequate distribution of pesticides to reduce pest density, economic loss, and environmental pollution. Knowing how well and where the insecticide is distributed within a crop is key to optimizing application strategies to target the insect and not lose insecticide to the environment. To evaluate the spatial distribution of pesticides within crops, fluorometric and spectroscopic methods have been used, but they lack the ability to be used in the field, because of instrument size, cost, and extensive sample preparation requirements. A field-compatible approach is water-sensitive papers. While easy to use, these papers often produce false positives due to a color change from water other than the insecticide mixture, such as humidity in the air or dew on the crop.


  • Quick and more consistent results
  • Less expensive that other methods
  • Analysis of 100 samples take approximate 10-15 minutes (5xs faster than water-sensitive paper)
  • Not subject to false positives
  • Filter paper dries quicker and prevents smearing
  • Ability to implement changes based on results more quickly


  • Agriculture (crop farming) / Precision Agriculture
  • Environmental studies of chemical or pesticide/insecticide distribution
Last Updated: September 2022

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