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Crops department

Charged spray improves coverage

AGCO promises better upper leaf coverage and reduced drift with the Energized Spray Process (ESP) that is now available on the Spra-Coupe 3640 sprayer. The ESP system uses standard nozzles at standard pressures. It delivers a 40,000v/micro amp charge to the liquid chemical before it reaches the nozzle. This creates a concentrated, high-intensity electrostatic field between the nozzle and the plant so the product is literally pulled through the air to the plant surface. AGCO reports that the ESP system can double upper leaf coverage and triple underside leaf coverage compared with non-ESP systems. The system does not require oil-based spreaders.

The ESP system fits a wide variety of crops — from corn and soybeans to carrots. The spray boom/manifold pressures range from 40 to 150 psi. The sprayer offers three speed ranges under 12 mph and two boom height positions ranging from 21 to 92 in. The Spray-Coupe with ESP features a 60-ft. composite boom and in-cab controls for all spray and operation functions.

Contact AGCO Corp., 4205 River Green Pkwy., Duluth, GA 30096, 770/813-9200, visit or

Thumbs up to atrazine

The herbicide atrazine recently passed another hurdle in its nine-year, reregistration process. It received a favorable decision from the EPA. In the interim reregistration process, EPA concluded that atrazine may continue to be used at current application rates, providing new monitoring procedures are implemented in 40 watersheds. The final reregistration decision will not be made until 2005-06.

Smart fertilizer spreading

In the future, growers and applicators may be applying granular fertilizer through a new spinner-type spreader with an optical sensor. Researchers at the University of Illinois are working on an optical sensor that predicts the spread pattern of granular fertilizer and will vary the rate of application. Tony Grift and Jan Willem Hofstee, university agricultural engineers, are spearheading the project.

“In precision agriculture, we need to be able to vary the application rate of fertilizer depending on the demands of the crop and soil,” Grift says. “The spread pattern on a traditional spinner-type spreader is usually very bad with peaks and valleys….So we had to come up with a method that would not only automate the calibration, but also allow us to change the application rate in real time.”

He and a grad student are working on a redesign of a single-disc, spinner-type spreader with fingers to control the spread pattern. The key element of the system is a sensor that measures the mass flow of fertilizer thrown from the spreader in all directions. Using this information, the landing positions of individual particles on the ground are then predicted.
University of Illinois

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