Company Takes Aim at Sprayer Application

Company Takes Aim at Sprayer Application

Spray stewardship will get more attention as new crop protection products come to market, a new 'academy' aims to help.

Custom applicators and farmers want to cover a lot of ground fast when spray time arrives, but there are concerns about application quality that may gain more attention with the return of "veteran" crop protection technologies in the next couple of years. During it's event - Science Behind the Future of Weed Control - BASF announced the creation of the On Target Application Academy.

ON TARGET: When a sprayer moves through the field at 13 miles an hour (or more) coverage and drift mitigation are key challenges.

This mobile training school is designed to provide sprayer users with a two-hour, focused look at the best way to get coverage, and keep drift to a minimum with the latest crop protection products. While spray drift has long been an issue in the heat of application season, the potential return of two key crop protection products - dicamba and 2,4-D - is creating some concerns. While the new tools will be in low-drift, low-volatile formulations - in effect Engenia from BASF and Enlist from Dow are definitely not the tools your father used - companies want to start off on the right stewardship foot.

For BASF that means creating this teaching system. "We're just putting together the final details," says Robert E. Wolf, who is owner of Wolf Consulting and Research, and will be taking a lead with the academy program. "We're working on the schedule now, and getting the program put together."

Wolf's challenge is to get the information he wants to communicate boiled down to make it useful and informative for sprayer applicators. A recent survey shows that 80% of farmers apply their own crop protection products, and the program will be aimed at connecting with those users too.

"We have to get our presentation honed in on the key topics," Wolf says.

During the training he will have a demonstration unit where he can show different nozzle types and use a strobe to better display the droplet size. The key is to get a droplet size that's large enough to avoid drift, but at the same time not so large that the application coverage is inadequate.

During his talk at the BASF event, Wolf showed one nozzle - a venture design - that appeared to be the solution. However, he adds that just mounting those nozzles on a sprayer just won't cut it. "You need to know the proper pressures for the conditions, and the product. If you're running at a pressure that's too low, then you add in a polymer based drift control agent, you could be creating a lot of problems," he explains.

The On Target Application Academy is supported by BASF and TeeJet, and will fire up training later in 2012. The return of those veteran technologies offers farmers enhanced tools to combat resistant weeds, but avoiding drift will be an important management issue.

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