A farmer/pilot’s knowledge of wind shear combined with his frustration regarding drift has led to a new nozzle shield solution.
The result could be more bang from every buck spent on applied crop protection.
"EPA testing is driven by chemistry and nozzles, but nothing about droplet control,” explains Kyle Butz, Spray Analytics.
Butz should know. His firm does droplet size testing. Recently he has been evaluating droplet control with the Pattern Master System from K-B AgriTech. Pattern Master is a lightweight aluminum shield that ends in a flexible polyethylene brush. Mounted in front of a spray tip, it is an air spoiler that protects the developing spray pattern from turbulence, allowing it to fully establish and better maintain its integrity.
"Everyone focuses on the spray tip, and they miss what the micro environment of wind and air movement is around it," says Bob Beggs, the B in K-B AgriTech. He and partner Kurt Kamin have been trying to get the application industry to adjust their focus for the past 4 years.
As the spray boom moves through the field, air movement speeds up under the boom. Droplet size and direction are altered, and product lifts into the air. Add a head wind and more turbulence results, with even less spray penetrating the canopy or hitting the target.
Reduce spray loss
"Anyone who applies crop protection products should be concerned about what percentage of active ingredients is going into the air and off-target instead of under the boom," says Kamin. "Our tests show at least 14% escapes straight up into the air. "
K-B AgriTech is now getting an audience, as several large regional co-ops have ordered the units for use on their application rigs, and a major manufacturer intends to enable a significant discount to their customers. They have also been invited to train dicamba industry representatives on features and benefits.
Retired Monsanto researcher, Jeff Travers, was an integral player on the research side of that company's dicamba project for nearly six years. Today he is helping spread the Pattern Master story.
Low canopy improvement
"Based on the drift from new dicamba chemistries, the best nozzles, drift agents and other tools still would benefit from additional help," Travers says. "If we can reduce the potential for spray drift, everyone should benefit. Pattern Master has demonstrated it can increase deposition in the lower canopy by almost 70%. With it, we should see not only better weed control but also better performance of insecticides and fungicides as well. The time is right, and the benefits could be huge."