Spray it right!

Article taken from The Fruit Grower

Speaking at the Agrovista Winter Technical Seminar in February, Bill Basford, independent mechanisation advisor, spoke about getting the best from orchard sprayers.  He said that correct calibration of sprayers was essential and that they needed to be adjusted to the specific crop.  Calculating spray volume required per hectare, taking into account flow rate in litres/minute, row width, tractor speed and the number of nozzles, was necessary, and that for mist blowers this was usually in the range of 200-1000 litres.  The key was to avoid spraying to run-off as this wasted a significant amount of spray compound.

Mr Basford advocated using water sensitive paper to assess the effectiveness of cover and spread.  Mounting these on wooden laths placed vertically within the tree row would give a good assessment.  The papers could also be stapled to leaves to gauge effective spray coverage.  Growers should be prepared to adapt the nozzle settings accordingly, he advised.  It was also essential to check the air displacement from mist blowers so that it could be adjusted to the crop.

To do this two poles at least 50cm longer than the tree height should be placed in the tree row with flagging tape placed at four levels: 50cm above the top of the trees, at the top of the tree, at the bottom of the cropping unit and, where necessary, 50cm below the cropping level.  Flagging tape should also be placed at the upper and lower baffles on the machine.  When running, this configuration would give a good visual indication of air displacement and could be easily recorded using digital imaging or video for future reference.  The airflow can be adjusted by the baffles on the machine.  When running, this configuration would give a good visual indication of air displacement and could be easily recorded using digital imaging or video for future reference.  The airflow can be adjusted by the baffle on top and bottom to ensure that the flagging tape is moving at the top and bottom of the canopy, but not above or below the canopy.  Visual checks can also be made during the season to ensure that settings have not drifted.  Above all, it was essential for spray operators to understand the target movement and size for a given spray combination, and the airflow, nozzles and speed, as well as how to set and check calibration.

For the future Bill Basford said there was considerable potential for spray-recovery systems to be used, minimising drift as well as maximising effectiveness.  He also stressed the importance of avoiding pollution and outlined how biobeds and biofilters had a role to play in achieving this.

 

11 May 2015

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