Spraying pesticides and chemicals on fields full of crops is crucial yet challenging process. Over spraying can impact the environment, healthy crops and expose humans to various health risks. Spraying less than required, on the other hand, can result in inefficient pest control and crop losses. Australian farmers spend billions per year on pesticides to protect their crops and increase yields, but a huge volume of those chemicals never reaches insects and weeds. In worst case scenarios, a lot of it lands on soil, healthy plants or is carried away with rainwater, resulting in a waste of money, time and effort.
To help farmers be efficient in agriculture spraying and get the most out it, we have put together some tips to keep in mind before you begin the process.
Agriculture spraying is a common and important practice for every farmer – small or big, allowing them to protect crops from pests and insects and improve crop yield. Though chemicals and pesticides play a vital role in Australian agriculture, it is necessary for a farmer to determine if there is a need to spray in the first place.
As agriculture continues to grow smarter and data-driven, more and more modern farmers are adopting practices like agronomic farming, organic agriculture and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which use chemical, cultural and biological methods to control pest problems while minimising risk to human and environment, dramatically reducing chemical use.
If you must perform chemical spraying to control pests and crop diseases, take the time to build an effective spray strategy. Proper planning is essential to make sure chemicals are used safely and efficiently across a field to avoid any waste and damage to healthy crops.
Read the Label Thoroughly
The pesticide label helps you use the pest control chemicals safely, correctly and effectively. The information and directions on the label allow you to get the most out of your pest control job – which means achieving maximum benefit with minimum risk. Not only should you read the label before buying a pesticide, but you need to refer to it through each stage of spraying – from mixing to application, storage and disposal. Remember that these chemicals can enter your body through inhalation, ingestion or absorption by the eyes and skin. So it is important to follow all the instructions in the label to ensure maximum safety and best results.
Manage Pesticide Resistance
Pesticide resistance, defined as the change in sensitivity of a pest/insect population to agricultural chemicals, is a serious and growing problem for farmers – with around 600 species of pests having developed certain level of resistance. If a pest population becomes resistant to a certain pesticide or a family of pesticides, those chemicals will no longer be effective at deterring pests and controlling diseases.
Pesticide resistance often develops when the same chemical or pesticides with similar properties and mode of action are sprayed on a crop over and over again. Moreover, some groups of target pests, weeds and diseases are particularly susceptible to resistance build up. If a pesticide must be applied to the same crop or site again, rotate chemicals from different activity groups or modes of action.
Check Your Equipment
Most pesticides and chemicals used to control pests, weed and diseases are in field crops are applied with hydraulic sprayers. Different types of sprayers – from tractor- mounted to pickup-mounted, pull-type and self-propelled – from numerous manufacturers are available in the market to support all types of agriculture spraying. Before you start the process, it is necessary to check and make sure your equipment is set up correctly and accurately calibrated so that you can achieve maximum efficiency in the process by spraying the right amount of chemical on the requires area to minimise waste.
Applying chemicals with a sprayer that is not calibrated and operated properly could cause ineffective pest, weed or disease control, which can result in reduced crop yields. That said, do a thorough calibration of the spray equipment and check the gallon per acre application rate of the sprayer. Use clean water while calibrating the equipment to reduce the risk of human contact with chemicals.
Understand Air Friction
Droplets of pesticides can take some time to reach the target crop. A tiny 100-micron droplet, which is about the diameter of a human hair, takes 11 seconds to cover 10 feet. Since the air resistance works against those pesticide droplets, even smaller droplets can four or five times longer to reach the desired destination.
Because wind can lead these slow-falling droplets in the wrong direction, it is important for farmers to always consider spray drift before they begin the application process. Some farmers tend to increase pressure in an attempt to speed the fall of pesticide droplets without realising that increased pressure would decrease droplet size, thus increasing the risk of spray drift. Pay close attention to the direction of the wind and where it may take your chemicals and adjust the droplet size accordingly.
These considerations can help you reduce inefficiency and increase precision in agriculture spraying to achieve best returns. Note that there are possible many other factors to take into account than mentioned in this blog when it comes to spraying. Building a smart spraying strategy with efficient chemical application and low risk to the environment is not practical without farmer market research. At KG2, we specialise in agribusiness market research service that provide farmers with insightful data and advisory guidance they need to inform their spraying process to minimise hassle and risk, increase accuracy and boost crop yields.