Good maintenance, correct calibration and accurate mixing all need to be considered for effective crop spraying, an industry expert has said.
Speaking at a Horticultural Development Company (HDC) technical seminar on optimising pest-and-disease control at Coletta & Tyson Nurseries in East Yorkshire, Dove Associates managing director John Adlam outlined a number of problems that could prevent sprayers from working effectively.
These included products settling in the tank or creating sticky residue, the blocking of nozzles or filters, or the tank overflowing.
Adlam said many issues could be avoided by ensuring that products were stored correctly and that the right quantities of water and products were mixed. In addition, equipment should be cleaned to prevent contamination and blockages.
"This has to be done if a product is going to work properly and if you are going to get the best economic effect," he stressed.
The correct calibration ensures that the product is applied at the legal rate and gives the maximum pest or disease control, he added.
"We all walk at different speeds and do things in different ways," he said. "If we don't calibrate properly, we're not applying the product according to the manufacturers' instructions and it could have a reduced effect. Do it for all your people and for each machine."
He added that adjuvants were often forgotten but could be positive additions to the spray tank, but the correct use of the products required some knowledge.
Mechanisation and spraying consultant Bill Basford, who also spoke at the event, suggested that nozzles used in agriculture could bring benefits in increased deposition, lower volumes and increased work rates, helping to save money.
"There are more nozzles than just fans or cones," he said. "It can mean more is returned in the right place, saving money all round."
The HDC event, aimed at small-scale sprayers used in the production of ornamental crops, has also visited Roundstone Nurseries and will be held for a third time on 29 February at Nocton Nurseries in Lincolnshire.
Using bio-pesticides Products set to increase in importance
Bio-pesticides are likely to become increasingly important in the future as fewer synthetic products are available, according to Fargro technical officer Joshua Burnstone.
Speaking at the Horticultural Development Company technical seminar, he said synthetic actives cost more than £100m to launch.
"This means that companies don't do it unless they can make the money back, and therefore don't focus on horticulture as much," he explained. "Some products are coming through, but they are mainly those with uses for agriculture as well."