Increase Efficiency With Aerial Application

Aerial applicationIncreased efficiency is a major focus of today’s aerial applicators.

The techniques of pesticide application have unfortunately not been developed to the same extent as the pesticides themselves. Today the aerial applicator industry in the U.S. is highly favored with the presence of a large number of modern turbine powered aircraft; however, it is used with technology from the near middle ages and to actually disperse the chemicals. Yes, we have sophisticated turbine engines and air conditioned cabins, and yet in most instances we continue to install crude hydraulic spray nozzles from the mid-1950s to atomize the products.

Conclusions from field experience: Low volumes can provide superb coverage provided that the applicator adjusts his application equipment to match the droplet size to the product and conditions. In my view, it’s an absolute necessity to conduct application tests with the equipment and products to identify the optimal adjustment to obtain consistently good results. We need to abandon the old concept of gallons of water and to tailor make applications to match the prevailing conditions.

Proper Measuring Tools

There are several tools that can be used to measure the efficiency of product application. These include the following:

Mylar cards: This is probably one of the oldest methods and in my experience is practically worthless since only the very large droplets, or a few droplets settle within a “no wind” condition will impact and it bears little or no relationship to the real deposit of the product on the crop.

Water sensitive cards: As can be seen in the Graph 1, the popular water sensitive cards have a very low collection efficiency when placed horizontally. The practice of using cards in the horizontal position often leads to erroneous conclusions regarding the effective swath width and the degree of crop coverage. The leaves of the crops are much more efficient at collecting smaller droplets due to their shape and the presence of minute hairs. From an efficacy standpoint all product collected on horizontal cards at ground level within the crop is a measure of lost or wasted product. However, the cards can be used more effectively when inclined at 45 degrees facing the direction of the prevailing wind, with a much higher collection efficiency especially so for the smaller droplets.

Fluorescent tracer products: These types of products permit a visual and photographic assessment of crop coverage and penetration utilizing a “black light” during a night visit to the field. The more effective products are fine powders that are sometimes difficult to mix into a slurry, but are much brighter than the soluble type of product.

Chemical analysis of the deposit: In many respects this technique produces an absolute value, but it does not reflect on the distribution within the plant. The data can still be utilized for crop residue studies and calculation of the “total recovery” of the product within the field.

Individual product performance: Each of the methods has an academic value however the only true measurement that matters on an economic basis is “Did the product work?” In my opinion, we need to seriously consider that we are applying chemical products for a specific purpose to control pests, diseases, or weed control — not painting cards.

Why is this relevant? It is a well-established fact that the pyrethroid insecticides have not been performing as well as expected in many cases, especially within the U.S., yet they continue to deliver excellent performance and are well known for their effect of “rapid knockdown” throughout Argentina and Brazil. The reason is that these products work by contact and ingestion action with no vapor effect, which means that for good results they must be delivered to the target insect. In the U.S., practically all product labels specify high volumes of water such as 2 gallons to 5 gallons per acre. This means that the products are highly diluted with water, furthermore, when applied in high volumes of water most of the product is delivered in large spray droplets resulting in grossly inadequate crop penetration and minimal contact with the insects — so growers have to wait for the insects to find the product.

However, in Argentina and Brazil, most applicators apply the products using low and very low volumes (ULV) typically applying insecticides at 2 liters to 10 liters per hectare (0.1 gallon to 1.0 gallon per acre), with the products being mixed with a non-volatile oil under adverse conditions to protect against evaporation loss.

Rust In Focus

The same principles apply to the control of Asian rust, since for adequate control we must have excellent crop coverage. This can be best achieved through low volumes utilizing oils and adjuvants to minimize evaporation losses and to maximize crop coverage. During the past four seasons very large areas of soybeans in Argentina and Brazil have been treated successfully using low volumes of 2 gallons to 4 gallons per acre using ground equipment and 0.5 gallon to 1.0 gallon per acre by aircraft with results significantly superior to that obtained with high volumes.

The key to success is the production of uniform droplet size and not volume of water. In seeking to obtain increased spray coverage it is far more important and more economical to decrease the droplet size than to increase the spray volume. Many entomologists/agriculturalists have always thought that higher volumes meant better coverage; this is erroneous, as high volumes actually result in poor control with inconsistent results in addition to higher application costs.

Do low spray volumes work? What are the advantages of lower spray volumes? Lower volumes have been proven to be more effective then high volumes in Brazil and Argentina for all categories of application including insect control, rust control, and crop desiccation using glyphosate. Within my personal clients-growers and custom applicators —many million hectares have been successfully treated last season using volumes of 1 gallon per acre or less, with the best results for rust control with aircraft around to 0.5 gallons per acre. With ground equipment, the best results are with 2 to 4 gallons per acre depending on forward speed of the equipment.

Low volumes are more effective for several reasons. The most important is that the chemical ingredient is more concentrated, enabling higher efficacy, in that one spray droplet may be adequate to kill a particular insect. For mechanical reasons, it is easier to atomize a lower volume of liquid using smaller spray nozzles. Rotary atomizers have been proven to be more effective in producing the necessary narrow droplet spectrum; however, they require skill and experience in operation.

In addition, there is longer residual action from chemical deposit. When applied in oils, the products are more resistant to wash-off by rainfall.

Other advantages include higher productivity of the aircraft since less time is wasted refilling with water and in terms of hectares per hour. This also means that spraying can often be finished before mid-day, when the weather is usually less favorable.

Leave a Reply

Equipment Stories

EquipmentMeeting Changing Liquid Storage Needs
October 10, 2014
Tank and containment choices are expanding with shifts in farming practices and the economy. Read More
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More

Trending Articles

CropLife 100Agrium To Cut 500 Jobs, Sell Some Businesses
November 11, 2014
Among the businesses Agrium will try to sell are its micronutrients and European UAN (urea-ammonium nitrate) lines. Read More
HerbicidesMonsanto, Sumitomo Chemical And Valent Extend Crop Protection Collaboration
November 10, 2014
The agreement extends their strategic partnership in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions platform for soybeans and cotton in the U.S. Read More
FertilizerCorn Rootworm Hybrids And Potassium Uptake
November 4, 2014
To achieve successful yields, grower-customers can’t afford to cut back on their potassium use with corn rootworm hybrids, say experts. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More

Latest News

EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 20, 2014
H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
soybean field
FertilizerGeneral Mills Honors United Suppliers For Nitrogen Opti…
November 19, 2014
United Suppliers winning proposal detailed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholar…
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
ManagementServi-Tech Names New CEO
November 17, 2014
Servi-Tech has named Greg Ruehle its new president and CEO. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Eric SfiligojMcDonald’s Message: Biotech Crops Scarier Than Cancer
November 17, 2014
Despite their potential health benefits, one of the world’s largest potato users will pass on a new biotech offering. Read More
MicronutrientsWinField Releases 2014 NutriSolutions Results
November 14, 2014
A number of significant regional and national crop deficiency trends emerged from the 2014 WinField NutriSolutions tissue sampling program. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Opens Chinese Production Lines
November 14, 2014
The occasion was the official launch of the Tiger-Sul sulphur Bentonite production line of two much anticipated fertilizer products in China, T90CR sulphur fertilizer and TZinc micronutrient enhanced sulphur fertilizer. Read More
ManagementOhio Certified Crop Adviser Program Accepting Nominatio…
November 14, 2014
The award recognizes an individual who delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production in Ohio. Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta Announces Acuron Trial Plot Results
November 14, 2014
Acuron was tested at 167 trial locations across 35 states. Trials included 95 Syngenta locations, 54 university locations and 18 distributor locations. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Expands Sales Force
November 13, 2014
The new sales representatives will work with growers, retail partners and distributors to oversee technical training and product education. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Raises $100K For Wounded Warrior Project
November 13, 2014
AGCO Corp. partnered with local AGCO dealers across the U.S. and Canada to raise nearly $100,000 in support of wounded service veterans. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Launch Of Enlist Duo Herbici…
November 12, 2014
It will be launched in conjunction with a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn, and seed production of Enlist soybeans in 2015. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 12, 2014
Agricultural firm H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
Blenders13 Fertilizer Blenders For 2015
November 12, 2014
Dealers can find a fertilizer blender to deliver any speed, volume and custom mix they want. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Vice President Receives Honorary FFA Award
November 11, 2014
Jim Loar, vice president of operations of Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division, was awarded the Honorary American FFA Degree at the 2014 National FFA Convention and Expo in Louisville, KY. Read More
FertilizerBASF Makes Limus Nitrogen Management Available In U.S.
November 11, 2014
Reducing ammonia losses by more than 90%, Limus nitrogen management has demonstrated increased crop yields on average of 6%, according to 2013 replicated research. Read More