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Spraying Tips

Chemigation: the Benefits and Pitfalls

Chemigation is the process of injecting a chemical into irrigation water, which is then applied to a crop or field. The term includes the application of herbicides (herbigation), fertilisers (fertigation), insecticides (insectigation) and fungicides (fungigation).

Chemigation is a method that has been used successfully for many years in certain types of agriculture and is mostly used in conjunction with drip or sprinkler irrigation systems. It has a number of advantages over other types of spray applications, but also some disadvantages.

Advantages include:

  • It is generally much cheaper than other forms of application
  • It provides more uniform coverage
  • Less labour is required

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The Past and Future of Aerial Spraying

Crop dusting or aerial spraying has had a controversial history, due to the high degree of risk it poses to operators and its potential for environmental damage.

The most common planes used for crop dusting are fixed wing planes such as the Cessna, the Grumman Ag Cat and the Piper Pawnee, but today it is not uncommon for helicopters to also be used for spraying. Prior to this, converted World War II surplus bi-planes were employed such as the Tiger Moth.

Crop dusting aircraft tend to be of simple, rugged design, often with spraying systems built into the wings and pumps powered by wind turbines.

Because of their greater potential to cause spray drift than ground-based sprayers, crop dusters always fly as close to the crop as they can (often as low as 15 feet) and this, along with all the obstacles they must avoid such as power lines and farm buildings, often contributes to accidents, of which there have been many over the years.

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Optimal Spraying In Diverse Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can have a big influence on the effectiveness of spray application. Rain, wind, temperature and humidity all need to be taken into consideration before any spraying is done.

Ineffective spray application is not just about wasting money. It also the concerns for the environmental effects of spray drift and run-off.

By monitoring the weather and changing your spray application methods to best suit the conditions, you can achieve more accuracy and less wastage

Wind speed and direction should be monitored at all times (particularly when air blast spraying) and spraying should only be conducted when the wind direction is consistent and the speed is no less than 2 kilometres an hour or no more than 15 kilometres an hour (as a general rule).

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Spraying Techniques for Orchards

No matter what type of fruit is grown, an orchard attracts a host of pests and diseases trying to eat into your profits. Here are some of the more common ones and some techniques to keep them at bay.

The set-ups employed in orchards for pesticide spraying are usually air blast sprayers (use a normal cone nozzle) and air shear sprayers and rotary atomiser sprayers (designed for controlled droplet application).

Worms and caterpillars love apples and eat into both fruit and the leaves. Treatment involves applying a general insecticide once when buds first appear and then again roughly two weeks later.

Peach borers lay their eggs beneath the bark of stone fruit trees. Their larvae can cause major damage from boring, so you need to get to them before they hatch. A permethrin or carbaryl-based pesticide should be applied when the adults first lay their eggs, followed by another dose a month or so later.

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Tips For Accurate Spraying

Accuracy in all aspects of spraying from mixing to application is not just about cost effectiveness. It’s also a health and environmental issue, particularly when spraying insecticides. Concerns about residues and risks to operators and the environment require extreme caution and accurate mixing and usage.

You need to read and understand all labelling, use only according to manufacturers’ instructions and observe EPA requirements. These vary from state to state, but generally advocate avoiding crops grazed by livestock, preventing excessive spray drift, keeping your equipment well maintained, posting sprayed areas, safely storing dangerous chemicals and wearing the correct personal protective gear.

Pesticides will be ineffective if the wrong mix is used. A neutral pH is required for maximum effectiveness of fungicides and insecticides. Some pesticides quickly ‘hydrolyse’ in alkaline water (break down to form a less active compound), so buying a pH kit to test your water supply is recommended.

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