Changing Crop Protection Landscape Demands Drift Advances

Dealers and growers need to be more careful than ever about drift control and spray efficacy.
Dealers and growers need to be more careful than ever about drift control and spray efficacy.

Drift control and spray application efficacy are entering a whole new era. So says Tim Stuenkel, global marketing communications manager at TeeJet Technologies, and many of his colleagues agree. With the new cropping systems coming on line in the next few seasons — utilizing more herbicide-resistant crops, for instance — and widening/rising consumer concerns about the environment, dealers and growers will need to be more careful than ever about off-target product movement.

Fortunately, manufacturers and universities continue to come up with innovations in three key areas: sprayer component design, crop protection chemistries and tank additives.

Pattern Master

The newest technology editors at CropLife® have come across is the Pattern Master brush system from K-B Agritech, LLC, based in Plainfield, WI. The tool is the brainchild of Kurt Kamin, veteran farmer and sport pilot. His design was based on the physics he saw in the aerodynamics of airplane flight — principles that also apply to sprayers in a field.

When the air hits the front of a sprayer boom as it moves, whether there’s a wind in the field or it’s a dead calm day, a high pressure area is created in front of the boom. As that high pressure travels around the boom, it’s moving to an area of low pressure, and the air actually accelerates. “So if you’re going through the field at 12 mph, you could have a 15 to 16 mph wind hitting your spray pattern,” says Kamin. That wind creates a shear factor on the spray pattern.

Kamin’s solution is to put brushes in front of each nozzle to deflect that turbulence, thereby eliminating a significant amount of drift. In fact, by eliminating that shear factor on the spray, the pattern can develop for about a third of its life unobstructed.

“Ecologically it’s friendlier for everybody because you hit your target. Economically it’s going to be extremely friendly because it makes you more efficient,” summarizes Kamin.

More testing will show exactly what percentage of drift is being eliminated, but Kamin is confident about the results.

The Pattern Master is so promising, it’s captured the attention of both Bob Wolf, drift expert/owner of Wolf Consulting & Research, and Monsanto, creator of the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend crop system. The system features soybeans tolerant to both glyphosate and dicamba. Monsanto will be tracking trials scheduled for this summer on soybeans that will quantify the brushes’ spray pattern protection.

A modern, full-size sprayer boom (120-feet, 20-inch spacings) can be equipped with a complete set of the Pattern Master units around $3,950.

More Spray Precision

While the technology of Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control is not new — Case IH introduced the AIM Command System on its Patriot sprayers several years ago — the concept is gaining more attention recently.

Last summer, Case IH debuted the AIM Command PRO spray system, which offers constant rate and pressure over a wide range of speeds. Nozzles can be turned on and off one at a time, rather than entire boom sections. This “minimizes skips, overspray and overlaps, preventing over-application and the resulting crop damage,” says Mark Burns, Case IH application equipment marketing manager.

Wolf says the PWM technology has always been a useful tool, but in his training workshops, he’s discovered it’s getting more and more popular with users. In fact, he promotes the system at his meetings, demonstrates it and assures applicators the tool is a good investment.

TeeJet Technologies has been looking at PWM for many years, but recently decided to “pull the trigger on it because the timing is right,” says Stuenkel. “The market is accepting of it, for the cost and benefits.”

TeeJet’s product, the DynaJet Flex 7120 PWM Sprayer Control will be available later this year.

With the system, TeeJet’s solenoid bodies are mounted on every boom salvo body. The solenoids have actually been on the market for several years for individual tip shut-off or section shut-off, so it’s a proven solenoid package, says Stuenkel.

“In conjunction with the DynaJet Flex controller, we can pulse the solenoids 10 times per second,” he explains. “By adjusting the duty-cycle on the solenoids, we can maintain a fixed pressure in the boom, as field speed increases or decreases — rather than increasing or decreasing the flow pressure to get the flow rate.”

Stuenkel says drivers can be more productive, putting down a full, appropriate rate even when they are slowing down to 4 mph at the end of rows or going 18 mph in the middle of the field. Applicators can also select a specific droplet size and maintain that throughout application.

With new weed control systems, “there’s going to be a lot more droplet size spray management needed, so you don’t have 2,4-D drifting on your neighbor’s crops that may not be 2,4-D ready,” Stuenkel points out. The industry needs a technology that can do this effectively and efficiently, so someone doesn’t have to get out of the cab all the time and adjust tips, he says.

The DynaJet Flex system is designed to piggyback on to existing rate control systems. Its compact, touchscreen display, mounted in the cab, allows for easy set-up and operation.

Challenges Of The New Systems

The dicamba- and 2,4-D-tolerant cropping systems may be in demand by growers, but it’s going to take a whole lot of education in application techniques — including droplet issues and particle drift — to make them effective.

“Labels are going to start specifying the spray quality or droplet size, in particular telling users to put on a coarse or very coarse drop, and they have to learn how to do that,” says Wolf.

Chemical manufacturers have worked extensively to engineer some of the products for less volatility, plus their experts know exactly how to get the size of droplet that will 1) kill the weed and 2) minimize drift, he notes.

“I think they’re going to err on the side of safety and probably call for a little bigger droplet than they might need because they don’t want drift,” says Wolf. He is concerned that if drift control is the industry’s number one goal, applicators will lose sight of the other very important goal in application: Killing the weed with the best coverage.

Some of the new nozzles are designed to reduce drift already, and if applicators lower sprayer pressure they may reduce drift even more — but coverage is also reduced. Over the past few years, Wolf believes this lack of coverage has played a part in some resistance problems.

“We’re trying to get some of the applicators using this new nozzle technology to spray at higher pressures. But that kind of goes against the educational philosophy for years and years and years that low pressure means less drift,” he says.

Recordkeeping for new weed strategies will also become even more crucial, as growers try to avoid hitting fields of non-tolerant crops with inappropriate chemistries or inadvertently allowing drift to reach susceptible crops. Wolf points out that as the industry introduces dicamba, 2,4-D, HPPD, ALS and sulfonylurea “ready” technologies, “how many programs and systems are we going to have to work around? It’s going to be recordkeeping headache for one thing, and it will mean a lot more different tank mixes.”

Speaking of tank mixes, Brian Kuehl, product development manager, West Central Inc., Willmar, MN, represents another drift technology segment evaluating the new weed control technologies: additives. The company is a wholesale distributer of crop inputs, including nearly a dozen adjuvants. With additives, “you not only have to be aware of droplet size, but you also have to be aware of the impact you’re having on the chemistry from a vapor or volatility standpoint,” he says. “West Central is working very hard with the manufacturers of these new weed technologies to make sure we have the right additives.”

Chris Reeves, Kuehl’s colleague at West Central, says tank products will continue to evolve and improve. How they work with application equipment, nozzles and pesticides are an “untold story.” He notes that some products look great in lab conditions, but become a problem when used in a commercial setting. They may encourage quick breakdown due to pump shear, be difficult to handle in some environmental conditions, not mix with fertilizers or need to be used at rates that are inefficient for the applicator.

One company that is carefully watching how the new weed control systems play out is The Andersons Inc., Maumee, OH. In 2012, CropLife reported that the firm had developed a breakthrough application technology: herbicides applied via water activated granules. “We’re trying to solve for drift,” says Chuck Anderson, director of professional products for the company’s turf and specialty group. The concept has been well-proven for efficacy, but finding commercial partners has been a challenge. “The granules have to be applied pneumatically because they’re so small,” he explains. The Valmar-type or airflow-type technology is out there, but it’s not in widespread use.

In fact, granules containing gly-phosate, dicamba and 2,4-D have been developed.

Anderson hopes the new weed systems are successful, but if there are some regions where more conventional spray technology won’t work, he’s hoping industry stakeholders will take a second look at granules, “which are on very few people’s radar.” In California, for instance, so many crops are in close proximity, applicators may need the added precision that granules can deliver, he says.

Pages: 1 2

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Changing Crop Protection Landscape Demands Drift Advances

  1. Thanks for the mention of the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry and the non-profit company that now runs it, FieldWatch. We can provide updated information regarding its purpose, its new redesign, numbers of registered growers, beekeepers and applicators, and the expansion into 12 states and Canada. Please visit our website and contact me for more information. Thanks much.

    Reid

Nozzles Stories
Nozzles18 Spray Nozzles That Reduce Drift, Optimize Coverage
May 7, 2014
This year’s line-up of tips feature the versatility to handle any spray job. View photos and product descriptions of the latest nozzles on the market in our slideshow. Read More
NozzlesChanging Crop Protection Landscape Demands Drift Advances
May 1, 2014
New weed control systems and growing public pressure mean technologies to minimize drift can’t come fast enough. Read More
Screen captures of Greenleaf Technologies’s mobile application app for agriculture on iPhone showing the home screen and an example result from their Nozzle Calculator called ‘NozzleCalc
NozzlesGreenleaf Launches Free NozzleCalc App
January 16, 2014
Quickly calculate sprayer settings for TurboDrop and AirMix nozzles anywhere with the new Greenleaf Technologies Nozzle Calculator app. Read More
NozzlesTeeJet Technologies Launches New Droplet Size Monitor, Guidance System
July 24, 2013
TeeJet has unveiled two new products: the Sentry 6120 Droplet Size Monitor, which helps operators improve spray applications, and the Matrix Pro GS guidance system with enhanced swath control. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Targets 2,4-D In Latest Report
June 29, 2015
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has struck again. Earlier this year in March, this agency of the Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Ma…
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
EquipmentCase IH Launches New Precision Air 5 Series Carts
June 29, 2015
Case IH recently introduced its new Precision Air 5 series air carts, developed to get the most from every plant’s Read More
InsecticidesVestaron Biopesticide Approved In California
June 29, 2015
Vestaron Corporation, a developer of insect control products derived from naturally occurring peptides, today announced that its VST-006330-EP biopesticide has received Read More
InsecticidesValent’s Zeal SC Miticide Receives EPA Approval
June 29, 2015
Valent U.S.A. Corporation announced today that Zeal SC Miticide has been registered by EPA with a new liquid formulation that Read More
Retail FacilitiesUnited Prairie Increased Plant Productivity With Junge …
June 29, 2015
Since 1979, Junge Control continues to provide ag retailers with highly accurate fluid and dry ingredient measuring, mixing and tracking Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
ManagementAsmark Training Center Visit & A Merger No Go
June 25, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj talks about a visit to the Ford B. West Training Center and the failure of the Read More
Crop InputsWinField: Here’s What We’re Seeing So Far T…
June 25, 2015
One of the most important things you can do throughout the season to help increase yield potential is to ensure Read More
Valent, Commodity Classic 2015
Industry NewsValent Garners FFA Honor
June 23, 2015
Valent U.S.A. Corporation today announced it has been named a 5-star member of the National FFA Foundation. This includes an Read More
Nester Ag intern Brad Nester
Crop InputsOhio NRCS’ New Conservation Practice Standard For Gypsu…
June 22, 2015
Ohio farmers wishing to use gypsum to improve soil quality now have access to technical information and possible financial assistance Read More
Industry NewsWest Central Creates New Executive Team
June 22, 2015
West Central Distribution, LLC officially announced the development of an executive team comprised of Dale Engan, chief executive officer; Michael Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Life Sciences Invests In People, Agricultural…
June 22, 2015
In mid-February, the USDA released its new 10-year agriculture projections. While the numbers are new, the theme was consistent. The Read More
Young corn plants
Crop InputsStudy: Crop Rotation Has Positive Impact On Soil Microb…
June 22, 2015
A study authored by Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences assistant professor Lisa Tiemann is Read More
Crop InputsIndiana NRCS Unveils Interim Gypsum Practice Standard
June 22, 2015
Indiana farmers wishing to use gypsum to improve soil quality as part of on-farm conservation programs now have access to Read More
ManagementInside Monsanto’s Bid for Syngenta
June 18, 2015
Monsanto’s possible buyout of Syngenta could send ripples through the retail chain. Learn the latest developments with Retail Week guest Read More