Every sprayer operator has the ability to mitigate sprayer drift.
The first and easiest thing an operator can do is change their droplet size. “It’s simple physics,” says Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs application technology specialist Jason Deveau. “When you go to a larger droplet, it’s more likely to continue to travel on the path you set it on, and less likely to be blown off course, or to evaporate to a point where it drifts away.”
Using larger droplets is the first management recommendation on Deveau’s drift mitigation tip list. That’s followed by boom height. “The longer a droplet is in the air between where you made it and where you want it to go, the more things can go wrong.” he says.
Deveau notes that a 150-micron droplet released from three feet in a seven mile-an-hour wind can potentially travel 16 feet downwind. “If you just drop the boom to two feet, instead of three, you cut that by more than half — it’s only six feet.”
Things get even better when operators increase droplet size. At a two-foot boom height using 300-micron droplets “it might drift half a foot,” Deveau adds.
In this video, recorded at Southwest Crop Diagnostic Days at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus, Deveau discusses the potential impact drift agents can have on reducing drift. He also stresses the importance of “situational awareness” and the need for sprayer operators to understand the environmental conditions in which they are spraying, the field location and surrounding crops. (more below)
“Once you gauge what the environment is, and understand what it can do to a droplet and what could happen if things really go sideways, then you can make the decision about how much you want to invest in mitigation,” says Deveau.
“Before you invest that time or that energy or maybe the additional water and time, you want to balance the pros and the cons — that’s situational awareness.”