Hit Right Where You’re Aiming

From Cotton Grower Magazine – March 2017

 

With new herbicide systems such as Roundup Ready Xtend and Enlist Weed Control hitting the market in 2017, cotton producers will no doubt be interested in keeping their applications on target. Unfortunately, the 2016 production season gave cotton growers in the Mid-South cause for concern.

In Arkansas and Missouri, particularly, state plant boards were flooded with complaints of off-target herbicide movement. But there are reasons for growers across the Cotton Belt to rest assured they won’t be troubled by off-target drift in 2017.

For one thing, the recently deregulated dicamba-based herbicides such as XtendiMax with VaporGrip technology from Monsanto and Engenia from BASF feature chemical components designed specifically to keep them on-target. The new herbicide formulations were created with accuracy in mind and have been field-tested to be much more reliable than their predecessors – products like Banvel, first introduced in 1967.

But in addition to the molecular advancements, equipment companies are offering practical safeguards against drift as well. Willmar Fabrication has seen great success over the years with their Redball hooded spray equipment. And according to a multi-year study from Extension experts, hooded sprayers are among the most effective tools for efficacy, stewardship and neighborly management.

Playing it Safe

In its label recommendation for XtendiMax with VaporGrip technology, the EPA recognized the potential benefit of hooded booms. “Using a hooded sprayer in combination with approved nozzles may further reduce drift potential,” the agency wrote.

Dr. Dan Reynolds, a weed scientist for Mississippi State University Extension, and Dr. Greg Kruger of the University of Nebraska Extension service put that EPA assertion to the test. In cooperation with Willmar Fabrication, the pair of researchers recently concluded a two-year study on the efficacy of Redball Hooded Boom Sprayers as compared to traditional open boom sprayers. They conducted field trials in 2015 and 2016 under 7 to 9 mph winds.

“This showed that we did see a decrease (in drift), particularly with the fine and medium droplets, with the hooded sprayer,” said Reynolds. “They give us a lot of opportunities to achieve maximum coverage
while minimizing the particle drift that’s there.

“I think this will be important with these new technologies where we have different active ingredients that can be used on these crops.”

The researchers recorded their measurements based off four different droplet sizes – fine, medium, very coarse and ultra coarse. In all droplet sizes, the study concluded, the use of the Redball Hooded Sprayer decreased the amount of particle drift.

With fine and medium droplets, particularly, the hooded spray booms significantly reduced drift percentage and drift distance when compared to open booms. The difference between the hooded booms and the traditional open boom decreased as the droplet sizes increased.

Still, the researchers note, growers will need to follow all guidelines and use their heads when applying new technologies in 2017.

“There’s no substitute for common sense,” said Kruger. “Every tool that we have at our disposal to mitigate drift is a valuable tool. (Hooded sprayers are) a tool in the system – a very valuable tool when you’re talking about spraying active compounds around highly sensitive areas.”

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