Conventional or low water volume?
Making time-critical pesticide applications with agricultural sprayers is not easy and becoming increasingly challenging as the average potato enterprise size increases nationally.
Sprayers have a maximum water carrying capacity, over which there is an increased risk of getting stuck in fields due to sprayer weight.
With average spray applications requiring about 200 litres of water per hectare, sprayers can't just keep going. They run out of water all too quickly.
To keep work efficiency high by the avoidance of lots of sprayer refilling trips, the larger scale grower could, a) send a worker with a water bowser to refill their sprayer at site, b) buy another sprayer at great expense, or c) potentially use a sprayer that can safely and effectively apply pesticides at low water volumes.
Danfoil sprayers use high air pressures to create fine spray droplets which achieve an effective coverage of potato crops, at much lower water volumes than conventional sprayers.They have a working range of between three and eight times greater than a conventional sprayer with the same tank capacity. In AHDB Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm West 2019 investigations, we found no perceivable drop off in crop protection effectiveness compared to a conventional alternative.
More investigative work is needed, and regulatory rules would need to be reviewed, but there is a case for this technology going forwards.
Dr Bill Watts, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager Potatoes West & Wales
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