Drift Breakthrough With Granules

Spray drift

As agriculture faces more scrutiny than ever — and growers strive to stretch every input dollar — one issue continues to rise to the top: spray drift. Three years ago a group of collaborators, funded in part by a $5 million grant from Ohio’s Third Frontier Program, began intense work to design a granule carrier to get pesticides and nutrients more efficiently to plants — and to engineer the application equipment to deliver it. The premise: Because of the ability to control their particle size, granules drift less than conventional liquid products.

Collaborators include powerhouse CropLife 100 dealer The Andersons, the OhioBioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC), Ohio State University’s Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC), Syngenta, PSB Co. and the National Lime and Stone Co.

The granules are being made at The Andersons’ laboratories in Maumee, OH, with evaluations underway in greenhouses and fields in Columbus and at the Wooster OARDC facility. Granules consist of 1) a bio-based material such as corn cob and tree lignosulfonate; 2) naturally occurring minerals; and 3) an active ingredient. So far, the three “indicator” herbicides in trials have been glyphosate, 2,4-D and dicamba.

Current focus is on foliar granules that are activated by water — either during the application or using existing moisture (dew) on the leaf surface — to create a phase-change, says Chuck Anderson, director of marketing and technical development at The Andersons. That touch of water is vital to delivery, to get the granules to stick to leaf surfaces, and to activate the materials.

Foaming granules are another work in progress. “Here, when water touches the granule an immediate ‘blossom’ of foam is created that covers a greater area than, say, a water droplet, due to the expanding nature of the foam,” he explains.

The commercial-level efficacy of this granule technology has already been proven with soil dispersing products released over the past 10 years by The Andersons for the turf market. The materials are applied to the soil with a dry spreader, then activated by irrigation or rainfall. In fact, in 2012 The Andersons are launching a dispersing humic acid called Humic DG.

Delivery Dynamics

In research, the foliar granules have been applied with almost entirely pneumatic technology, in this case, Valmar spreaders, but the team has also modified pneumatic equipment to aid the wetting process.

Equipment changes and evaluations are the job of Michael Sword, research engineer with The Ohio State University Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE). Finding and creating just the right granule size and water/granule ratio has been a challenge, but Sword says team has found that “sweet spot” with units able to produce granules measuring almost entirely 200 microns in diameter. At this size, leaf adhesion is high and drift is dramatically reduced.

He notes that in conventional liquid applications, the sheer weight of ever larger sprayers — loaded with the water needed to apply products — contributes to soil compaction. “We are going out with a lot less or no water,” he says.

At this point, the team is proving the foliar granule concept. They have used Valmar spreaders to cover plots with 6-foot-wide rows stretching 20 feet long. When the time comes time for granule commercialization — anticipated in 2014-15 — Anderson says they will have worked out the scalability. He believes equipment manufacturers such as Ag-Chem (Valmar’s parent company) and Case IH “will make good platforms to apply our future products for the high volume delivery needed by custom applicator operations.”

Anderson says one of the biggest surprises along the way has been that in two summer trials, granules performed better than the liquid formulation, which could be related to the high heat conditions at the time. And granule formulations are being applied as low as 20 pounds per acre.

“We think the two main reasons for adopting this new technology will be risk mitigation and convenience,” he says. “There is zero liquid drift as well as the traditional convenience of granules — easy spill containment, stable in storage and freezing conditions, no mixing, reduced volatility, and reduced worker exposure.”

Anderson expresses an urgency to mainstream this technology in light of the new GMO crops expected in the next few years: “Some of the active ingredients that the seed companies are working with are more inherently volatile than glyphosate. I think this gives granules an edge.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Herbicides Stories

HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
HerbicidesArysta Touts Burndown Herbicide For Brome Management In Wheat
June 4, 2014
Arysta LifeScience North America recommends PRE-PARE Burndown Herbicide for effective brome management in winter wheat. Read More
HerbicidesFall Herbicide Applications More Effectively Manage Resistant Italian Ryegrass
May 14, 2014
Field studies show that a fall application of certain herbicides before weed emergence, leads to more successful crop planting and weed control in spring. Read More
Waterhemp in soybean stubble
HerbicidesThe Weed Resistance Problem: A Matter Of Billions
April 1, 2014
Not only is the amount of money being spent to control these yield robbers high, but the toll it has taken on the human population is growing lager by the day. Read More

Trending Articles

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More

Latest News

MicronutrientsVerdesian Acquires Micronutrient Supplier
September 30, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has acquired QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Read More
Eric SfiligojHearing From Young Ag Voices
September 30, 2014
Potential future leaders in ag retail had the chance to shine at the recent Mid America CropLife Association meeting. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
September 29, 2014
Jon Parr will succeed retiring COO John Atkin at the end of the year. Read More
CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facili…
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Vice President Appointments
September 25, 2014
Two individuals have been appointed Vice President positions on the GROWMARK executive team. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Industry Organizations Join Global Alliance …
September 25, 2014
The Fertilizer Institute, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association are encouraging the industry to promote the proper use of fertilizer products to minimize their environmental impact. Read More
Precision AgARA Organized Precision Forum Hits Capitol Hill
September 24, 2014
The Coalition for the Advancement of Precision Agriculture (CAPA) hosted its inaugural Precision Ag Forum, Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C. Read More
FertilizerFactors To Consider When Placing Fertilizer With Seed
September 24, 2014
The type of crop, fertilizer source, row spacing and soil environment all affect how much fertilizer can be safely applied with seed. Read More
FertilizerSidedressing Manure Into Corn Has Promising Results
September 24, 2014
Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields. Read More
FertilizerWhen To Sample Manure For Analysis
September 24, 2014
Because the goal is to collect a sample that represents the manure actually being applied, the best time to sample is during loading or field application. Here's why. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Faces Second Lawsuit Over Agrisure Viptera Cor…
September 23, 2014
A second company has sued Syngenta AG over sales of genetically modified corn seed not approved by China. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Field Guide For Farmers Expanded
September 23, 2014
Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have an updated and expanded resource in the second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide. Read More
HerbicidesArysta LifeScience Launches Contest For Wheat Growers
September 23, 2014
The Flush after Flush Photo Finish contest encourages farmers across the U.S. to participate through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FlushAfterFlush. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions Wit…
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More
Eric SfiligojIt’s Product Of The Year Voting Season
September 22, 2014
Readers of CropLife IRON will choose 2014’s best new product over the next month. Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesValent To Discontinue Gangster Herbicide
September 22, 2014
Valent will discontinue Gangster Herbicide after the 2015 growing season as growers can now deploy Fierce XLT herbicide in soybeans. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More