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The application of liquid sprays remains the foremost means of delivering agents to control insect, disease, and weed pests of major crops. Since the introduction of crop protection agents (CPAs), it has repeatedly been shown that the method of spray application has an impact on the resulting product effectiveness, yet relatively little systematic progress in achieving the optimum spray deposit has been made. Instead, because of the heterogeneous spatial and temporal nature of most pest complexes, specific optimizations have largely been abandoned in favor of general sprays which compromise spray drift, canopy penetration, retention, and efficacy. New atomization technologies offer opportunities to change droplet size and carrier volume independently, on-the-go. This is expected to renew interest in the optimization of spray quality in a site- or case-specific fashion. Initial implementation of this capability will revolve around variable rate application and drift management. In the long run, however, there will be a new demand for information relating spray quality to canopy penetration, spray retention, and efficacy for a range of conditions, pests, active ingredients, and formulations. Incorporation of additional information will no doubt increase registration costs and product label complexity. Still, the industry's response to these opportunities will determine, to a large degree, how application technology will contribute to our society's overall goals of reduced use and increased efficiency of pesticides.
dose transfer, spray quality, spray retention, spray interception, spray drift, efficiency, hydraulic nozzle
Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon Research Centre, Saskatoon, SK