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.

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

IDKT Twin Air Induction Flat Spray Nozzles | Lechler
NozzlesIndiana Company Becomes Exclusive Lechler Distributor
January 21, 2016
The fluid flow experts of Green Leaf, Inc., a Fontanet, IN, manufacturer of agricultural products, introduces Lechler Inc.’s IDTA asymmetrical Read More
D Series TurboDrop Nozzles | Greenleaf Technologies
Nozzles17 Spray Nozzles For 2015
May 7, 2015
Reduction in drift. Extremely coarse droplets. Uniform coverage. Ideal for pre- and post-application. These are just some of the words Read More
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
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
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Crop Protection Products in storage
Crop InputsNewsweek: World Is ‘Awash In Glyphosate’
February 11, 2016
The world is awash in glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto. It has now become Read More
Crop InputsEPA: Let’s Talk Imidacloprid, Bees On February 18
February 11, 2016
EPA will hold an online technical briefing on its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, on Feb. Read More
ManagementThe latest on Syngenta-ChemChina Deal
February 11, 2016
Executive Editor Paul Schrimpf invites Jackie Pucci and Dave Frabotta from sister publication AgriBusiness Global to discuss the latest developments Read More
AdjuvantsUniversity of Illinois Confirms Adjuvant’s Perfor…
February 11, 2016
An independent University of Illinois study has shown that WETCIT adjuvant, now with TransPhloem technology, provides greater herbicide uptake and Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta’s Acuron Flexi Receives EPA Approval
February 11, 2016
Growers looking to control their toughest weeds with flexibility will have access to Acuron Flexi corn herbicide from Syngenta, now Read More
EquipmentAGCO Showcases White Planters 9800VE Series Planters AT…
February 11, 2016
AGCO unveiled the new White Planters 9800VE Series planter during the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. The Read More
EquipmentCase Unveils 2000 Series Early Riser Planter At NFMS
February 10, 2016
Case IH revealed the all-new 2000 Series Early Riser planter to media and attendees at the opening of the National Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta: Keep Ag In Mind During Election Season
February 10, 2016
As presidential candidates stake out their 2016 election platforms and key priorities, growers and their business partners should seek opportunities Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Submits New Bio-Fungicide For E…
February 9, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) today announced that it has submitted a new biological fungicide (MBI-110) to EPA. The broad spectrum Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Crop InputsGenetic Literacy Project: Farmers Need More Herbicide C…
February 9, 2016
There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on, writes Andrew Kniss for The Read More
HerbicidesWeed Expert Warns North Dakota Growers Of Coming Herbic…
February 9, 2016
Ford Baldwin painted a bleak picture of weed control at a recent workshop here exploring the future of ag production, Read More
HerbicidesWSSA Announces New, Updated Free Web Resources
February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More