TruFlex - How to handle spray season hangups
Jul 3, 2019
As the 2019 growing season gets underway, now is a great time to determine and implement your spraying strategy for the year.
Seven tips for successfully managing spraying season
While technological advancements have made many aspects of spraying easier, farmers still need to prepare and plan to be effective and safe. And if bad weather or equipment breakdowns occur, that preparation becomes even more important.
To stay one step ahead this spray season, here are seven helpful tips to include in your plan:
1. Set aside time to properly clean and calibrate your equipment
Cleaning sprayer tanks, nozzles, hoses and end caps with rinse water and cleaner is a must. Just a small amount of residual chemical can cause a lot of trouble.
Because tank mixing herbicides is becoming more and more common on Canadian farms, proper tank clean-out is more important than ever. Petroleum-based herbicides or adjuvants may trap Group 2 herbicides on polyethylene tank walls when mixed together. These Group 2 residues dissolve into the tank-mix solution when water is added, which may injure non-Group 2 canola if it’s sprayed next. For example, as little as 0.18 litres of a Group 2 herbicide left in the spray tank can adversely impact the health of your non-Group 2 canola.
Research from Iowa State University recommends allowing 15 minutes of agitation for each tank rinse and at least one minute for lines and other plumbing during each spray rinse.
Properly calibrating your sprayer is also worth the investment of time and can ensure you’re maximizing your crop protection inputs.
2. Read the label
This might sound obvious, but simply reading the label carefully can save you a ton of headaches. Even if you’ve applied the same product in years past, labels do change and it’s your responsibility to know the correct way to mix and apply that product.
Not only is reading the label a sound farm stewardship practice, it will also save you time and money in the long run.
3. Mix chemicals carefully...or ask an expert to help
According to Sprayers101.com, a website dedicated to sharing best practices in agricultural spraying, proper mixing begins with filling the spray tank with at least half the water you intend to use. Then, with the agitation activated, materials should be added in the following order:
- Wettable powders, flowable
- Agitate, anti-flowing compounds, buffers
- Microcapsule suspension
- Liquid and soluble
- Emulsifiable concentrates
- High load glyphosate
Once all the materials are present, the remaining water can then be added to the spray tank.
Because of the unique nature of mixing chemicals, even if you follow the order exactly, the most important step is to allow chemicals the time to dissolve and mix properly – usually a 10 to 15 minute process.
While we’re often looking to do things faster on the farm, mixing chemicals is one area that demands our attention. And if you’re unsure about anything, make sure to ask your local agronomist or crop input dealer for assistance.
4. Don’t spray during inversions
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), temperature inversions commonly occur when the air near the ground cools at night and fog forms. In addition, calm winds and clear skies increase the likelihood of inversions occurring.
During inversions, gases trapped near the surface can’t mix with the warmer air, which causes gas to hover near the ground and not reach the intended target – which is not a very efficient use of your time or product. Best practice dictates that a steady, gentle wind offers the best condition for spraying. Inversion testers and wind speed meters can be helpful tools to add to your arsenal.
5. Slow down
Resist the temptation from stepping on the gas to complete your spraying faster. Even a half-kilometre per hour speed reduction can improve coverage by:
- enhancing your boom height control and spending more time spraying over each plant
- lowering spray pressures at lower speeds and creating larger droplets and fewer fine droplets; and
- producing less of your own wind keeping the spray more uniform, so more small droplets get pushed down to the target.
6. Use protective equipment
Spray season can be a dangerous time on a farm if you’re in a hurry. You can make it a lot safer by wearing some simple, protective equipment. Gloves, long sleeve shirts and protective eyewear can prevent skin contact while mixing or transporting chemicals.
If you’re not sure how to protect yourself, the label will often include any safety equipment you should be using or wearing.
7. Know your application windows
The product label will tell you when application needs to occur to be most effective. If you’re using the TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology system, you’ll get up to 10 to 14 more spray days compared to our current technology using Roundup WeatherMAX® herbicide.
TruFlex™ canola enables an application window that extends past the six-leaf stage all the way to the first flower* when applying sequential rates of 0.67 L/ac. This wider window of application adds flexibility into your spray plans in case you’re delayed by bad weather or a breakdown.
While successfully navigating a spray season is never easy, implementing a sound strategy can remove some of the unpredictability and ensure your growing season starts strong.
*First flower is when 50% of the plants in the field have no more than one flower.