What is in this article?:
• Your No. 1 goal should be to increase the efficacy and control the pest.
• Your second goal is drift management, and those two goals go hand-in-hand.
• But if you let drift management become the No. 1 goal, you’re not always going to kill weeds, so we have to keep No. 1 in mind here
BOB WOLF, PROFESSOR Emeritus at Kansas State University and president of Wolf Consulting & Research, describes new sprayer technology at the Sprayer Clinic held at the E.V. Smith Research Center in Shorter, Ala.
Two big conflicts
“So we’ve got two big conflicts in that process, because it takes good coverage to kill weeds, and the good coverage we may want to provide could lead to drift issues.
“This is nothing new — we’ve always talked about it. But we’re moving towards a balance between these two concepts that’s going to be dictated by the label, and it’s going to be more difficult for some than for others to fit that into your spray program.”
Some commercial booms are 120 feet long because there’s a lot of ground to cover and because timely applications are important, says Wolf.
“Whether you’re a self-applicator as a farmer or a commercial applicator, the goal is timely applications. If we do not have good coverage, there will be less weed control, and if we drive faster, there’s more potential for drift.”
There are three critical goals involved in the application process, and it’s important to keep these goals balanced, wherever you might be in the application chain, says Wolf.
“At some point in time, you have to balance these perfectly to get the best job done for the money you’re spending for the product.”
Many farmers have never sprayed anything but glyphosate, says Wolf.
“That has become the ‘easy’ button. We can do it anytime, anywhere and anyhow. But since then, we’ve seen the advent of weed resistance. A resistant weed plant can produce millions of seeds in a year, and even if only 10 percent of them live, it can be a challenge.”
Unfortunately, if it’s not in your field, then you’re probably not worried about it, he says. “That’s the concern we have in the industry. We need to be concerned about it, whatever the product.”
Commercial sprayers, says Wolf, can cost more than $400,000. “If I ran a co-op and owned one or two of those machines, my No. 1 goal would be to cover a lot of acres and to do it fast. But at a grower level, you can invest a lot less in a sprayer.”
From what we know about the new chemistry formulations for dicamba and 2,4-D, airplanes will not be part of the label for those products, says Wolf.
“I don’t know how many years that’ll be for, but for now, they will be applied only by ground. Airplanes, however, do play an important role in other applications. A top-of-the-line ‘air-tractor’ plane could cost as much as $1.5 million.”