Farmer Iron

Herbicide Sprayer Setup May Require Heading Back to School

New biotech traits that rely on legacy herbicide technologies will require new attention to better application. (Video included)

Farmers are taking on more of their own spraying as they work to manage application timing and cost for their operations. Part of that has been driven by rising use of glyphosate, but also the growth in the popularity of fungicides. In the next few years, crop protection companies are launching new biotech traits that fall back on what I'll call "legacy" products - new forms of 2,4-D and dicamba.

Both of these herbicides are great at what they do and are well known to farmers. However, they also bring along their own inherent issues - drift and volatility.

During Commodity Classic last week Robert E. Wolf, owner of Wolf Consulting and Research, showed up in two different press events I attended both focused on a new form of dicamba that will enter the market to match a new biotech trait. Wolf is working with Monsanto and BASF to start spreading the story about the best nozzle to use with a new form of dicamba (rest assured you are not going to just go to your favorite crop chemical dealer and pick up some dicamba to put in the tank with Roundup when the new technology is launched).

Monsanto and BASF have teamed up on the new tools. Monsanto is launching the trait - Roundup Ready 2 Xtend - that will be paired with the glyphosate-dicamba combo Roundup Xtend. But the dicamba in that formula is from BASF, which the company will market as Engenia. The new low-volatile formulation offers added protection from off-target issues, but reducing actual drift during application will be critical as well.

For Wolf, the key is that nozzle, which he explains needs to provide a larger droplet size, and fewer small "fines" that can float away easily. "We're looking for less than 1% of those fines in the spray," he says. The result is probably the venturi-type nozzle which provides a larger droplet, but also provides good coverage at application time.

He is quick to add, however, that "you can't just move to that nozzle without thinking about the application speed, and pressure. Those have to be taken into consideration when applying these products. If you go too slow, or the pressure isn't right you might get droplet sizes that are too large for good coverage. There are some issues to consider."

Wolf is the creative force behind BASF's On Target Application Academy, and his innovative spray table with its nozzle demonstration is being used by Monsanto and others to do field training as this technology nears the market.

A new formulations of 2,4-D - Dow AgroSciences launched its Enlist Weed Control system a year ago that uses a choline form of the active ingredient (and the only form that is going to be used on its new Enlist biotech trait) - is coming to market too. Part of that system is that new formulation of 2,4-D with lower potential for drift and volatility too. However, tuning up your sprayer ahead of the full launch of these new products makes sense for the future.

While the heat of full Midwest planting is almost upon us, and the new tech is still on the horizon, it might be time this summer to refocus on that sprayer and the best pressures and speeds you need to improve application effectiveness and on-target performance.

The video in this blog contains a short look at Wolf's spray demonstration and the keys he will be focusing on at the BASF On Target Application Academy, and with others focusing on this issue.

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