Less Spray, More Coverage

New aerial application techniques can increase efficiency and spray coverage, according to field tests conducted by Alvin Rhodes, a BASF technical service representative. He explained the new techniques at the National Agri­cultural Aviation Association’s annual conference.

Rhodes used BASF’s Headline fungicide in soybean fields in the Louisiana and Mississippi Delta region last season. He found that decreasing spray volume while increasing the deflection of the aircraft’s nozzle reduced the size of dispersed droplets, allowing more of them to penetrate deeper layers on the plants without falling to the ground. (Applicators are required to use a crop oil with emulsifier properties when spraying at the lower volume.)

“Applying products in this manner can help provide protection to the lowest leaves on a crop without the aid of a crosswind,” says Rhodes. The practice also “allows applicators to cover more acres more quickly.”

The Louisiana test showed that with proper nozzle setup, Headline applications at a lower volume of 2 gallons per acre resulted in equal coverage to all levels of the soybean plants when compared to a volume of 5 gallons per acre. These comparison results are consistent with the lower water volume label for aerial application of Headline that was approved by EPA in May.

“Providing the best possible coverage fosters healthy plant growth,” says Rhodes. “That is the best way a grower can maximize his yield and see the kind of results that a product like Headline can produce.”

Not Just For Rust

More and more retailers are adopting the practice of using fungicides such as BASF’s Headline and Syngenta’s Quadris to improve their growers’ crop health, including Community Mills in Cassopolis, MI and Ritter Crop Services in Marked Tree, AR.

At Ritter Crop Services, sheer economics drives the decision whether the fungicide will be added to a grower-customer’s planned input arsenal rather than reserved just for a disease outbreak. “With higher soybean prices, our growers are willing to take a little more risk,” says Ben Branch, warehouse manager.

Meanwhile, Community Mills’ Century Club — a group of 12 progressive grower-customers — are fully committed to attaining 100-bushel per acre yields, and a fungicide application to improve their crop’s vigor is a key cog in their programs. While these growers budget for fungicide, “they keep an eye on any soybean rust development and are ready to make adjustments,” says Jon Tone, agronomy sales manager.

Visit www.rustready.com for more details on these retailer programs, the first installment of an ongoing special report on soybean plant health and performance. 

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