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Reduce Spray Drift By Using the Proper Equipment


Some spray drift occurs in all agricultural chemical applications. Forethought by the operator concerning the application method, technique and equipment can go a long way in reducing spray drift and its potentially harmful effects.

Spray pressure and nozzles

Select the appropriate spray nozzle to produce as little drift as possible given the conditions, chemical and crop. Ideally, the droplets will be the same size and larger than 200 microns. That is not always possible, though, because of spray nozzle variations.

Low-drift spray nozzles are available from most manufacturers. They are among the most common of the many drift reduction equipment options that are available.

Larger spray nozzles create larger droplets, so increase the size if it is appropriate for the chemicals and conditions.

Some products work well with air induction nozzles. A vacuum inside the nozzle draws air into the solution to create air bubbles. The air and liquid combine to create a larger spray droplet.

Air shields installed on the spray boom can help reduce drift. Air curtain spray booms, also called air-assisted booms, use an external fan to more directly spray the chemicals to the target fields. Electrostatic sprayers are another drift reducing choice.

Operators also may add a drift control additive to the spray solution to increase droplet size and improve the spray's performance. The additives are a specific class of chemical adjuvants.

Additionally, dropping the spray pressure can reduce the potential for drift. Higher pressures generate more droplets that are less than 150 microns in diameter. Droplets that fine are prone to spray drift. Consider using extended range flat fan nozzles to produce a uniform spray pattern at a lower pressure. Test the spray pressure gauges for accuracy before making changes.

The correct spray height for each nozzle is determined by the nozzle spacing and spray angle. Wide angle spray nozzles usually allow the spray boom to be kept closer to the target surface. The spray pattern should remain uniform when the discharge angle is increased from 80 degrees to 110 degrees.

Operator training

States have primary responsibility for ensuring that operators are licensed and certified as required by federal and state laws to apply crop protectants in an appropriate manner. The certification program often includes training about how to protect people and the environment from off-target spray drift.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with U.S. Department of Agriculture and state government agencies to carry out certification and training programs for pesticide applicators.
Southern States also has its own certification program, for both equipment and operators called GrowMaster.

Compliance and violations

Report off-target spray drift complaints to the state or tribal government agency that is responsible for enforcing the proper use of crop protectants. These agencies have the primary responsibility of enforcing the laws regarding such products. They will investigate complaints and, when appropriate, issue penalties for improper use.

The EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs regulates pesticide use. When necessary, the EPA assists state and tribal agencies with their investigations. EPA uses its discretion to pursue violations based on the facts and circumstances of each drift situation.


Crop Protection

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