Minimize risks of damaging crop spray drifts with a few uncommon sense suggestions offered by Purdue University Extension Agronomist Chris Parker.
Know your neighbor's crops: Tomatoes and grapes are the two most sensitive crops to 2,4-D drift. Knowing where those drift-sensitive crops are, taking preventive action and talking to those neighbors in advance could go a long way toward avoiding issues later, says Parker.
Know your nozzles: If you think your spray nozzles might be worn, they probably are. Spray solutions often contain some grit you can't see, and can wear nozzles more than you might expect. Worn nozzles no longer emit the same spray pattern or droplet size they did when new. They contribute to drift issues.
Drift can be stealthy: Remember, drift is the off-target movement if spray particles – and vapors! Vapors can be affected by topography and air inversions. Inversions occur when its cooler near the ground than it is higher up. With minimal winds, they can cause chemical vapors to hoover and move off-site. It happens most commonly at sunset and sunrise, with low cloud cover and wind speeds less than 2 mph, cautions Parker.
Droplet size matters: Hold down the percentage of droplets that are 200 microns or smaller. That's affected by your nozzles and by spray pressure.
Using drift reduction agents? If so, check your herbicide label to make sure the compound is compatible with the product. Incompatibility can cause more headaches than any good they might do.
Got buffer zones? If you or your neighbors have buffer zones, consider them as sensitive crop zones.
Consider spray hoods: Spray boom hoods can substantially reduce drift potential. They're available for most sprayer types.