Every year in the spring, ag retailers and their grower-customers prepare for the coming crop season. This involves prepping crop fields, planting seed, and applying various crop inputs including herbicides and fertilizers to “clean up acres” and help young plants grow.
In recent years, however, there has much more scrutiny placed on environmental and cost-saving concerns as regulations regarding the application of certain crop protection products and crop nutrients have become stricter and commodity prices have fallen. This is expected to become even more of an issue moving forward as new cropping systems employing such drift-sensitive chemistries as 2,4-D and dicamba enter the marketplace.
Obviously, says Mark Bartel, President at Wilger Inc., this has all put a tremendous amount of pressure on virtually everyone that conducts business in the agricultural community. “Given all the new emphasis on protecting the environment and preventing spray drift coming from EPA and all the new label requirements for the chemical companies to follow, I would say that we as an industry are at an eight out of 10 in terms of how everyone is trying to cope with all this,” says Bartel. “But of course, this number is dependent on which sectors of the ag business you are talking about. For ag retailers and custom applicators, the number would probably be a seven or an eight. For the chemical companies, though, it’s closer to a 10.”
Products To Consider
According to Bartel, with chemical manufacturers under intense pressure to keep their label recommendations up to speed, many are looking to tip and nozzle makers to aid in this cause. “Companies like Wilger have to perform numerous wind tunnel tests to qualify to be listed for use on these new labels, and we are always trying to improve our products to meet these standards.” For example, the company’s COMBO-JET line of MR, DR, and SR Series tips are all designed to reduce drift potential compared to extended range flat fan tips. “These percentages range anywhere from 30% to 90% drift reduction,” adds Bartel.
Another example would be the Turbo TeeJet Induction (TTI) tip from TeeJet Technologies. According to the company, the TTI produces extremely coarse and ultra-coarse droplets for maximum drift control, especially when working with such products as glyphosate and dicamba.
Over at Lechler Inc., the company’s low-drift tip/nozzle options include the ID3 Air Induction Flat Spray Nozzle. Capable of working across a wide range of pressure options, the company claims that ID3 nozzles can achieve up to 90% drift reduction according to European testing authorities.
In addition to tips and nozzles designed to reduce drift, one manufacturer — Pentair Ltd., makers of Hypro Ultra Lo-Drift tips — has introduced the Fence Row Control. A switch box designed to turn on and off up to two valves at the same time, the control can be used to reduce drift and product waste, according to Wayne Steward, Hypro Product Manager. “The switch box can control up to 16 ProStop-E valves with a 4A amp rating,” says Steward.
Regarding achieving cost-savings on crop input use, Greenleaf Technologies recently introduced its TurboDrop MKII Variable Rate Nozzles to the marketplace. According to Owner Will Smart, these new nozzles incorporate an advanced check valve system into their design.
“This new technology translate into tangible benefits for spray applicators, as well as increased confidence when using variable-rate nozzles in the field,” says Smart. “In addition to improvements in accuracy, our new TurboDrop MKII fertilizer nozzles are now airless, providing a wider operating range of 10 to 140 psi while eliminating the possibility of fertilizer ‘spitting’ from the side of the nozzle.”
Another company focused on fertilizer application is The CP Products Co., Inc. For several years now, the company has offered its Triple Stream Accessory Tip to the agricultural marketplace, which fits all three volume versions of CP’s sprayer turbo nozzles. According to the company, the Triple Stream yields rates from 3.2 to 23.3 gallons per acre at 40 psi, depending upon which volume nozzle is being used. In addition, a new Five Stream Tip will soon be introduced by the company.