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Articles from 2013 In March


10 things you need to know today

10 things you need to know today

Here’s some information to start your week:

• How USDA report zapped Southern corn growers: Southern corn growers will be at a disadvantage as long as USDA continues to release its first survey-based projections of crop planting intentions at the end of March.

20 seconds to death – trapped in a grain bin: Grain bin engulfments continue to cause deaths and injuries on farms, highlighting the need to emphasize safety measures.

Don’t rush to plant rice: A late round of winter weather and rain has affected Arkansas. Recommended soil temp at planting is 60°F at 4 inches. While some areas might be lucky enough to have ground dry enough to plant for a day or two before it rains again, a mixed bag of weather forecasts should give you reason to hold off. Jarrod Hardke, Bob Scott and Gus Lorenz also discuss options and benefits of insecticide and fungicide seed treatments for rice.

7 keys for using a wheat fungicide: Stripe rust continues to be observed in wheat in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Extension plant pathologist Tom Allen gives key considerations for deciding whether or not to apply a fungicide.

Are soybean seed treatments worth the price? In this three-minute video, Arkansas Extension entomologist Gus Lorenz discusses the positive value of seed treatments for soybeans… a net positive return about 80 percent of the time (3 to 3.5 bushels per acre).

12 federal tax scams: To remind taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams ranging from identity theft to return-preparer fraud, the Internal Revenue Service has posted its Dirty Dozen list of tax scams for 2013.

How to get the most out of your Tier 4 engines during planting: Stuart Birrell says preventive maintenance of Tier 4i engines has not changed significantly from other high-tech diesel engines, but it is more important to follow the recommended maintenance schedule, particularly in keeping all filters and cooling systems clean and free of dust and dirt. If not, it could cause automatic power reduction.

Cold start for 2013 corn crop: Much of the corn planted in southeast and southwest Arkansas had not emerged by the start of last week, even though some had been planted more than three weeks. The cold weather last week slowed emergence and growth even more. Extension agronomist Jason Kelley says no decisions about replanting or destroying an existing stand should be made until you have given the crop ample time to emerge and fully evaluate stands.

13 tips for safe handling of anhydrous ammonia: While anhydrous ammonia can be very useful on the farm, mishandling or poor preparation can be disastrous. Agrability’s Michael Freyaldenhoven offers tips for safe handling of anhydrous ammonia and on holding tank safety.

Lessons learned from irrigation pump monitoring: Monitoring irrigation pumps has provided some intriguing lessons. Christopher Henry reveals his findings.

USDA Planting Intentions timing off for Southern corn producers

Farmers in the Mid-South and Southeast have shown they can produce high corn yields. (Arkansas and Georgia had some of the highest yields in the nation last year.)

Southern corn growers are at a disadvantage, however, when it comes to their northern brethren, and they will be as long as USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service continues to release its first survey-based projections of crop planting intentions at the end of March.

By the end of March (This year’s Planting Intentions report was released March 28), many southern growers have already planted their corn crop or are just days away from putting planters in the field. Thus, when USDA announced near-record corn plantings of 97.3 million acres, the die was already cast for many southern producers.

Corn prices started falling almost before the ink had dried (or the electrons settled) on the March 28 forecast. Southern growers who had not priced their new crop corn with futures or forward contracts were looking at futures prices in the $5.60 range for September delivery after they went limit down.

If Southern farmers are serious about growing corn, and it appears they are, they may want to begin talking with USDA about adjusting the release date for the end-of-march planting intentions report.

 

bees on a flower

14 Ways to Protect Bees when Planting Corn, Soybeans this Spring

There are concerns with possible bee kills from the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments when planting corn. The neonicotinoids, when applied to the seed, get mixed with the talc that is used to allow seeds to flow more easily in the planters, and then the insecticides plus talc enter the environment during planting or when the seed boxes are cleaned. This “dust” can settle on flowering plants and weeds that bees will use for forage, or perhaps contact the bees or nearby hives directly resulting in bee mortality.

Although much work and study is ongoing and still needed on the extent of this problem, there are certain practices that growers can use that can help limit bee exposure to these neonicotinoids. The following suggestions are those being recommended by numerous groups and people, including Bayer (the manufacturer of clothianidin or Poncho), and from information received from our neighbors to the north in Ontario, Canada. To see further ideas on limiting bee’s exposure, see Bayer’s Bee Health Care website and read the brochures.

 

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First, know where beehives are located and remember that bees can forage up to 3 miles from their hive. Communication among growers, seeders and beekeepers on the timing of planting and the location of hives can help reduce the risk of bee incidents. Such communication can enable beekeepers to confirm that hives are located upwind or in shelter belts and have access to clean water sources. It can also permit beekeepers to temporarily protect or relocate hives where this is feasible. The following are suggestions that growers should consider.

During Preplant

1.     Avoid generating dust when handling treated seed, pouring seeds carefully into the planter in such a way as to avoid the transfer of dust from the seed bag; do not shake any loose material or dust from the seed bag into the planting equipment.

2.     Control flowering weeds before planting so that foraging bees are not attracted to the field during planting.

3.     Check that treated seed and coating are of high quality; seeds should be clean and the coating should be well-adhered to the seeds.

4.     Handle bags with care during transport, loading and unloading in order to reduce abrasion, dust generation and spillage.

5.     Use planting equipment that ensures a high degree of incorporation of seed into the soil and that minimizes spillage and dust emission, and where air exhaust is directed into the ground along with the seed.

6.     Because seed flow lubricants may affect the generation of dust during planting; carefully follow use directions.

During Planting

7.     Plant in the early morning or in the evening when bees are not foraging.

8.     Avoid planting treated seed in windy and/or very dry conditions; consider wind direction and avoiding planting treated seed if bee-attractive flowers are downwind.

9.     Make sure seed is placed into the soil and not exposed, especially at row ends and corners.

During Disposal and Cleanup

10.  Spilled or exposed seeds and dust should be incorporated into the soil or otherwise cleaned-up from the soil surface.

11.  Do not leave empty bags or left-over treated seed in fields or the environment.

12.  Do not clean planting equipment near bee colonies, or bee-attractive flowering crops or weeds.

13.  Use a broom or shop vacuum to properly dispose of any dust or treated seed in planting equipment, and if compressed air is used, take care to minimize dust release.

14.  Properly dispose of any dust or treated seed remaining in planting equipment (for example, empty into a container and vacuum any dust remaining in the hopper).

 

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USDA invites applications for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement projects

The USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

"The Obama administration continues its commitment to help our nation become more energy independent by partnering with agricultural producers and rural small businesses as they build renewable energy systems and reduce energy usage," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These investments will not only help our farmers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs, but also provide a new potential revenue source and stabilize their operations' bottom lines.”

REAP, authorized by the 2008 farm bill,is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs andconsumption and help meet the nation's critical energy needs.

The USDA is accepting the following applications:

  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications until April 30, 2013.
  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications until July 15, 2013.
  • Renewable energy system feasibility study grant applications through April 30, 2013.

Since the passage of the 2008 farm bill and through the end of Fiscal Year 2012, REAP has funded nationwide over 6,800 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, feasibility studies, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance projects.

Examples include Edaleen Cow Power LLC, located near Lynden, Washington, which received a REAP loan and grant combination to install an anaerobic digester and sell the resulting electricity to a utility. The project is anticipated to generate 4,635 Megawatt hours per year. Manure produced by Edaleen Dairy's 2,450-head herd is the sole feedstock for the project and the dairy benefits from the bedding byproduct the digester produces. Also, in Augusta, Wisconsin, farmer Matthew Gabler received a grant to assist in installation of an 11 kilowatt wind turbine to produce approximately 29,000 kilowatt-hours a year for his farm. 

OSHA reform bill reintroduced

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), along with 10 other Democratic Senators, reintroduced a bill on March 22 that would overhaul worker safety law.
Like its previous versions, the proposed Protecting America's Workers Act (S. 665) would increase minimum penalties for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, extend that law’s provisions to public sector workers, enhance whistleblower protections, and provide extended rights for injured workers' family members.
The bill also includes two new sections addressing multi-employer worksites. One new provision would expand general duty clause protections beyond just the employer's employees to “each employee of the employer or any other individual performing work at the place of employment.” The other new section would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue regulations requiring a “site-controlling” employer to track all recordable injuries and illnesses, including those occurring among contractors and subcontractors. A similar provision was included in a bill (H.R. 170) introduced in January by Rep. Green (D-Texas).
 
 
Sen. Murray introduced a similar bill in the last session of Congress, but it did not see a vote. Previously, the bill had been introduced by the late Sen. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and in the House by now-retired Rep. Woolsey (D-Calif.).
Sen. Murray’s bill has been referred to the Senate HELP Committee, and a companion version is expected in the House soon. The bill's chances for passage appear slim, given the Republican majority in the House has voiced its concerns with the legislation in previous sessions.

March 26 USDA Weekly Weather Update

 

All graphics courtesy of USDA, NOAA, Department of Commerce

 

Light precipitation fell in many parts of the country, but significant weekly totals (2 in. or more) were mostly confined to the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest. Early in the week, heavy rain reached as far north as the southern Corn Belt, including the lower Ohio and middle Mississippi valleys.

Meanwhile, dry weather prevailed from southern California to the southern High Plains. Substantial early- and late-week rainfall in the Southeast slowed fieldwork but maintained generally favorable moisture reserves for pastures, winter grains and emerging summer crops. Florida’s peninsula, which experienced a dry winter, received light but much-needed rainfall.

Farther west, however, precipitation largely bypassed the southern Plains, where periods of warm, windy weather increased stress on rangeland, pastures and winter wheat. In contrast, beneficial precipitation (mostly snow) blanketed the northern and central Plains. In particular, a late-week storm produced widespread snow across the central Plains. At week’s end, the storm arrived across the southern Corn Belt. The remainder of the Midwest experienced unusually cold weather, accompanied by some light snow.

Weekly temperatures averaged more than 15° F below normal in the far upper Midwest and adjacent areas of the northern Plains. In addition, upper Midwestern temperatures frequently plunged below 0° F, with some readings below -20° F reported early in the week in the Red River Valley. Elsewhere, warm, dry weather in southern California and the Desert Southwest contrasted with cold, showery conditions in the Northwest. Fieldwork advanced in the warm, dry regions, but water-supply prospects remained mostly dismal from California to the central and southern Rockies.

 

Download the full March 26 WAOB report.

Photos: California Weed Science Society conference

More than 550 people attended this year’s California Weed Science Society annual meeting in Sacramento where Steve Fennimore of Salinas, UC Extension weed specialist, took over as president. Next year’s conference will be held Jan. 22-24, in Monterey.

10 key facts about GM crops

10 key facts about GM crops

Biotech crops are the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times. In 2012, a record 17.3 million farmers grew biotech crops.

FACT #1: 2012 was the 17th year of successful commercialization of biotech crops.

Biotech crops were first commercialized in 1996. Hectarage of biotech crops increased every single year between 1996 to 2012 with 12 years of double digit growth rates, reflecting the confidence and trust of millions of risk-averse farmers around the world, in both developing and industrial countries.

FACT #2: Biotech crop hectares increased by an unprecedented 100–fold from 1.7 million hectares in 1996, to over 170 million hectares in 2012.

This makes biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times – the reason – they deliver benefits. In 2012, hectarage of biotech crops grew at an annual growth rate of 6%, up 10.3 million from 160 million hectares in 2011. Millions of farmers in ~30 countries worldwide, have made more than 100 million independent decisions to plant an accumulated hectarage of ~1.5 billion hectares, equivalent to 50% more than the total land mass of the US or China; this reflects the fact that biotech crops deliver sustainable and substantial, socioeconomic and environmental benefits.

FACT #3:  For the first time in 2012, developing countries planted more hectares than industrial countries.

Notably, developing countries grew more, 52%, of global biotech crops in 2012 than industrial countries at 48%. In 2012, growth rate for biotech crops was at least three times as fast, and five times as large in developing countries, at 11% or 8.7 million hectares, versus 3% or 1.6 million hectares in industrial countries.

 

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FACT #4: Number of countries growing biotech crops.

Of the 28 countries which planted biotech crops in 2012, 20 were developing and 8 were industrial countries; two new countries, Sudan (Bt cotton) and Cuba (Bt maize) planted biotech crops for the first time in 2012. Germany and Sweden could not plant the biotech potato "Amflora" because it ceased to be marketed. Stacked traits are an important feature – 13 countries planted biotech crops with two or more traits in 2012, and notably, 10 of the 13 were developing countries – 43.7 million hectares, or more than a quarter, of the 170 million hectares were stacked in 2012.

FACT #5: Number of farmers growing biotech crops.

In 2012, a record 17.3 million farmers, up 0.6 million from 2011, grew biotech crops – remarkably over 90%, or over 15 million, were small resource-poor farmers in developing countries. Farmers are the masters of risk-aversion and in 2012, a record 7.2 million small farmers in China and another 7.2 million in India, elected to plant almost 15 million hectares of Bt cotton, because of the significant benefits it offers. In 2012 over one-third of a million small farmers in the Philippines benefited from
biotech maize.

Facts 6-10

FACT #6: The top 5 countries planting biotech crops.

The US continued to be the lead country with 69.5 million hectares, with an average ~ 90% adoption across all crops. Brazil was ranked second, and for the fourth consecutive year, was the engine of growth globally, increasing its hectarage of biotech crops more than any other country – an impressive record increase of 6.3 million hectares, up 21% from 2011, reaching 36.6 million hectares. Argentina retained its third place with 23.9 million hectares. Canada was fourth at 11.8 million hectares with 8.4 million hectares of canola at a record 97.5% adoption. India was fifth, growing a record 10.8 million hectares of Bt cotton with an adoption rate of 93%, In 2012, each of the top 10 countries planted more than 1 million hectares providing a broad foundation for future growth

FACT #7: Status of biotech crops in Africa.

The continent continued to make progress with South Africa increasing its biotech area by a record 0.6 million hectares to reach 2.9 million hectares; Sudan joined South Africa, Burkina Faso and Egypt, to bring the total number of African biotech countries commercializing biotech crops to four. Five countries, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda conducted field trials of biotech crops, the penultimate step prior to approval for commercialization. The lack of appropriate, science-based and cost/time-effective regulatory systems continue to be the major constraint to adoption. Responsible, rigorous but not onerous, regulation is needed, particularly for small and poor developing countries.

FACT #8: Status of biotech crops in the EU.

Five EU countries planted a record 129,071 hectares of biotech Bt maize, up 13% from 2011. Spain led the EU with 116,307 hectares of Bt maize, up 20% from 2011 with a record 30% adoption rate in 2012.

FACT #9: Benefits offered by biotech crops.

From 1996 to 2011, biotech crops contributed to Food Security, Sustainability and the Environment/Climate Change by: increasing crop production valued at US$98.2 billion; providing a better environment, by saving 473 million kg a.i. of pesticides; in 2011 alone reducing CO2 emissions by 23.1 billion kg, equivalent to taking 10.2 million cars off the road for one year; conserving biodiversity by saving 108.7 million hectares of land; and helped alleviate poverty for >15.0 million small farmers and their families totaling >50 million people, who are some of the poorest people in the world. Biotech crops are essential but are not a panacea and adherence to good farming practices such as rotations and resistance management, are a must for biotech crops as they are for conventional crops.

FACT #10: Future Prospects.

Cautiously optimistic with more modest annual gains likely due to the already high rates of adoption in the principal biotech crops in mature markets in both developing and industrial countries.

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Jim Cranney California Citrus Quality Council president works to find ways to keep Fuller rose beetle eggs from hitchhiking in California Navel orange shipments to Korea
<p> Jim Cranney, California Citrus Quality Council president, works to find ways to keep Fuller rose beetle eggs from hitchhiking in California Navel orange shipments to Korea.</p>

Beetle threatens California Navel exports to Korea

The California citrus industry is in fast-track mode to enact solutions to keep Fuller rose beetle (FRB) eggs out of Navel orange shipments exported next year to Korea.

Starting in January, a failure to do so could bring California Navel shipments to Korea to a halt or reduce shipment levels, according to Jim Cranney, president of the California Citrus Quality Council (CCQC) in Auburn, Calif.

Korea is the top importer of California Navels, valued at about $213 million to the California industry annually. On average, California ships about 10 million cartons of Navels to Korea each year.

About 30 percent of all California-grown citrus is exported. This represents about 40 percent of the industry’s annual income.

Cranney says the problem maker is the eggs of the Fuller rose beetle, Naupactus (Asynonychus) godmaniand, which are potential hitchhikers in California Navel shipments to Korea. The beetle likes to lay its eggs under the calyx (button) on citrus.

According to UC IPM Online, the FRB adult is a brown, flightless snout beetle with one generation of offspring per year. The adult pest emerges from the soil year-round and climbs into the tree via branches or the trunk. It causes minor damage to the Navel orange tree leaves and roots but, no damage to the fruit. There is no threat to human health.

Currently, Korea fumigates imported California Navels with methyl bromide upon arrival at Korean ports to kill any possible FRB eggs in the shipment. Korea fears that if the pest was introduced in Korea it could become a problem on crops other than citrus, where the insect could cause more serious crop damage.

Korea wants to eliminate methyl bromide exposure to port workers and the logistical complications which fumigation causes in busy port facilities. Some governments around the world are also voluntarily reducing the use of methyl bromide due to environmental concerns.

 

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Starting in 2014, Korea is likely to expect the California citrus industry to treat Navels for FRB before shipping the fruit to Korea.

The country’s request was shared with California citrus leaders several years ago. Korea asked that California work quickly to institute the change. The change is likely to become effective next year.

“The elimination of Fuller rose beetle eggs on Korea-bound Navel shipments could be the responsibility of the California citrus industry effective in 2014,” said Jim Cranney, president of the California Citrus Quality Council (CCQC), Auburn, Calif.

The CCQC’s mission is to solve issues brought about by domestic or international regulatory action. Cranney says that except for the possible introduction of Huanglongbing, the Fuller rose beetle-Navel issue is the most important citrus industry challenge in California.

“Effective next year, a single Fuller rose beetle egg found in a shipment bound for Korea could cause the shipment to be rejected before it leaves California,” Cranney said. “An interruption in trade could deal a major financial blow to the California citrus industry.”

It is unknown at this point whether Korea will insist on the complete removal of blanket fumigation in Korea or if a potential transition period might be negotiated.

No crystal ball

Many of the mitigation measures needed to control FRB need to be in place before the season begins.

Given Korea’s previous efforts to eliminate blanket fumigation over the last two years, it creates uncertainty about its continued viability and the ability of USDA negotiators to maintain the fumigation.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Korean quarantine officials will negotiate the final terms of the issue this summer.

“We really need to take steps to control the pest in California,” Cranney said with urgency in this voice.

“No one has a crystal ball and we don’t know for sure how this issue will be resolved. From everything we have heard from APHIS, it will be a very heavy lift to maintain blanket fumigation in Korea.”

CCQC, researchers, government leaders, and other organizations are working hand-in-hand to develop effective FBR control techniques to ensure the California-Korea pipeline remains open.

There is not a single solution right now, Cranney says. The industry has a toolbox of methods to greatly reduce beetle and egg numbers.

“I think we have a good set of options in place,” Cranney said. “However right now, we cannot guarantee that any of these tools by themselves will eliminate every single insect or egg.” The tools are designed for implementation in Navel orange groves and packinghouses.

The adult FRB is a crawling insect, which moves from the soil into the tree wherever the two come in contact – low limbs touching the ground and the tree trunk. Once in the tree, the FRB adult lays its eggs under the calyx; the area where the stem attaches to the fruit.

 

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FRBs feed along the citrus leaf margin creating sharp, ragged notches but cause no damage to the actual fruit.

The CCQC is collaborating with University of California entomologists Joseph Morse and Beth Grafton-Cardwell to find solutions to keep the insects out of the tree. Morse recommends skirt pruning branches to keep the limbs from touching the ground.

For FRBs which prefer to climb up the trunk, Morse’s solution is to apply the Brigade WSB, with the insecticide active ingredient bifenthrin, on the trunk using a wand sprayer to keeps the pesticide from reaching the fruit.

The problem though is the current product label maximum rate for Brigade WSB is two applications at one-quarter pound each (one-half pound annually); possibly not enough for an effective kill rate or enough applications to kill the adults during peak emergence from July through October.

The CCQC is working with FMC, the product manufacturer, and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to increase the maximum label rate to four applications at the same rate (1-pound total annually). Morse says this rate offers improved FRB control.

Cranney says bifenthrin is highly effective against FRB adults, but is not 100-percent effective.

“Korea doesn’t want 95-percent control. Korea wants 99.9999-percent control. We don’t have 100 percent control of the Fuller rose beetle eggs with this method right now, but it is the best option currently available.”

Farm tactics and fumigation

Another insecticidal possibility is under review by Beth Grafton-Cardwell, director of the Lindcove Research and Extension Center, Exeter, Calif. Grafton-Cardwell has determined that the products Sevin, Actara, and Kryocide provide fairly good, but not a perfect kill of the FRB.

In combination with skirt pruning and trunk treatments, the foliar treatments could be used to kill adults which find a way onto the foliage.

Additionally, Cranney says some of the more effective foliar pesticides lack maximum residue levels (MRLs) for product use in some global markets. He says gaining MRLs for insecticides is a very time-consuming process.

Morse and Grafton-Cardwell have written a detailed FRB article which will appear in the March-April issue of Citrograph magazine, published by the California Citrus Research Board.

 

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Treatment beyond the farm includes the possible use of postharvest fumigation gas (other than methyl bromide) at citrus packinghouses packing Navels for the Korean market.

According to Cranney, one fumigant option explored by Elizabeth Mitcham, director, UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center, Davis, is the active ingredient ethyl formate (trade name Vapormate).

Cranney says ethyl formate kills about 85 percent of FRB eggs. The CCQC is seeking full registration of the product which could be approved by this fall.

Spencer Walse of USDA-ARS in Parlier, Calif., is conducting research on the active ingredient phosphine, a relatively toxic fumigant which Cranney says would likely be used in a fumigation chamber or with a dedicated tarping system.

Overall, Cranney says FRB control could be achieved through a combination of on-farm tactics and fumigation, but this will depend on population levels in individual groves and whether the fumigants can be registered in time for use next season.

Nearly all of the available options for FRB control are new tactics so the industry has very little experience on how the products will work under field conditions.

Cranney says the CCQC is also concerned about the cost of these measures.

“We have a set of tools, when used in combination, can probably do the job,” the citrus leader said. “The industry faces a huge learning curve. The challenge over the next few years is to determine which products are the best tools for the job and how to use them.”

The next step is for the California citrus industry to execute the plan.

“I am optimistic that Fuller rose beetle egg control efforts will keep California Navel orange trade flowing with Korea, but it will require more costs and efforts to get there,” Cranney concluded.

The University of California will conduct a Fuller rose beetle field day April 22 at the Lindcove Center from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call (559) 592-2408.

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cblake@farmpress.com

9 Steps to Calibrate your Sprayer

9 Steps to Calibrate your Sprayer

 

Now is the time to check the accuracy of your sprayer. One can determine if the chemicals are applied at the proper rate only by carefully calibrating the sprayer. While applying too little pesticide may result in ineffective pest control, too much pesticide wastes money, may damage the crop and increases the potential risk of contaminating ground water and environment. The primary goal with calibration is to determine the actual rate of application in gallons per acre, then to make adjustments if the difference between the actual rate and the intended rate is greater or less than 5% of the intended rate. This is a recommended guideline by the EPA and USDA.

Calibrating a boom sprayer is not as difficult as it sounds. It usually doesn’t take more than 30 minutes, and only three things are needed: a watch showing seconds, a measuring tape and a jar that measures ounces.

Before starting calibration, make sure you have a good set of nozzles on the sprayer. Nozzles wear off through extended use causing over application, or some nozzles are plugged. Clean all the plugged nozzles. Check the output of all the nozzles for a given length of time at a given spray pressure. Compare output from each nozzle’s output with the expected output shown in the nozzle catalog for that nozzle at the same pressure. Replace the nozzles showing an output error of more than 10% of the output of the new nozzle. Once you do this, now you are ready to calibrate your sprayer.

 

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There are several ways to calibrate a sprayer. Regardless of which method you choose, it usually doesn’t take more than 30 minutes, and only three things are needed: a watch showing seconds, a measuring tape, and a jar graduated in ounces.

Calibration Steps

To calibrate a boom sprayer for broadcast applications using this method, follow these steps:

1.     Fill the sprayer tank (at least half full) with water.

2.     Run the sprayer, inspect it for leaks and make sure all vital parts function properly.

3.     Measure the distance in inches between the nozzles.

4.     Measure an appropriate travel distance in the field based on this nozzle spacing. The appropriate distances for different nozzle spacing is as follows: 408 ft. for 10-in. spacing, 272 ft. for 15-in. spacing, 204 ft. for 20-in. spacing, 136 ft. for 30-in. spacing and 102 ft. for a 40-in. spacing. (See Extension publication AEX-520 for travel distances for other spacings, and for an explanation for selection of these specific travel distances for given nozzle spacing.

5.     Drive through the measured distance in the field at your normal spraying speed, and record the travel time in seconds. Repeat this procedure and average the two measurements.

6.     With the sprayer parked, run the sprayer at the same pressure level and catch the output from each nozzle in a measuring jar for the travel time required in step 5 above.

7.     Calculate the average nozzle output by adding the individual outputs and then dividing by the number of nozzles tested. The final average nozzle output in ounces you get is equal to the application rate in gallons per acre. For example, if you catch 15 oz. from a set of nozzles, the actual application rate of the sprayer is equal to 15 gal/acre.

8.     Compare the actual application rate with the recommended or intended rate. If the actual rate is more than 5% higher or lower than the recommended or intended rate, you must make adjustments in either spray pressure or travel speed or in both. For example, to increase the flow rate you will need to either slow down, or increase, the spray pressure. The opposite is true when you need to reduce application rate. As you make these changes stay within proper and safe operating condition of the sprayer. Remember increased pressure will result in increasing the number of small, drift-prone droplets. Using the trial-and-error method to eventually reach the intended application rate takes some time. If you follow the equations given in Extension publication AEX-520 on calibration you can find optimum travel speed and pressure much faster.

9.     Recalibrate the sprayer (repeat steps 5-8 above) until the recommended application error of +5% is achieved.

 

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