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Using clean water when calibrating a pesticide sprayer and carrying extra nozzles for quick repair of simple problems in the field are just some of the tricks of the trade that can help growers save time, energy and money during spraying season, says a spray technology expert in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.
Because there are so many things that could go wrong when using a sprayer, growers need to take extra time to ensure they know the right techniques to keep their sprayers performing in optimum condition, according to Erdal Ozkan, an agricultural engineering professor with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.
OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.
With the rising cost of pesticides and fertilizers, growers who want to save money and spray chemicals as efficiently as possible need to make sure they choose sprayers that work as accurately as possible and get the job done with less use of chemical inputs, he said.
“Spray application requires more managerial decisions than any other farm operation because a lot of things could go wrong with a sprayer that you don’t know are going on,” Ozkan said. “For example, a nozzle could be clogged and the only way you can find out is by calibrating your sprayer.
“If you’re spraying more pesticides than you need, you’re wasting your money, and if you aren’t applying enough, you may have to go back and respray your entire field.”
Those are the kinds of mistakes that could result in poor performance of the pesticide and cost growers time and money to reapply to the entire field, he said.
“Paying attention to the application rate, travel speed, spray pressure, nozzle selection and spray drift will lead any grower to a successful outcome — which is the efficient and effective control of pests,” Ozkan said.
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“There are also environmental concerns to be aware of that can cause unintended problems such as spray drift or application of pesticides in certain areas that could cause chemicals going into waterways,” Ozkan said. “That is why calibration is so important.
“It’s not only how much you apply but how uniformly you are spreading it over the target.”
In a recent CORN newsletter posting, Ozkan offers the following tips that can help growers get the most out of their sprayers:
Source: Ohio State University
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