Alberta's AgTech Centre develops sprayer Nozzle Selector tool
Posted: June 16, 2009
A new tool to help farmers get the best nozzle performance out of their crop sprayers is now in the test stage.
Check out the Special Report on the Nozzle Selector, developed by AgTech Centre. Growers are invited to provide their feedback and have the option to sign-up to test drive an online version.
The tool is the result of 15 years of nozzle research conducted by the AgTech Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. As part of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, the Centre is dedicated to agricultural technology research with a particular emphasis in recent years on economic, environmental and social sustainability. That research includes extensive work on crop spraying systems.
"As more and more sprayer nozzles hit the market in recent years and AgTech's research grew more detailed, there was a need to have all this data at our researchers' fingertips," says Brian Storozynsky, AgTech project manager and lead on the Nozzle Selector project. "That was important both to analyse data as part of the ongoing research process and to be able to answer producers' questions quickly and efficiently when the phones started ringing each spring."
The AgTech Nozzle Selector was built as a research tool to accomplish this, he says. "Once it was developed it was a logical extension to put it right into producers' hands, so the design was adjusted to accommodate that."
The producer tool is designed around a visual approach, he adds. "Our experience at trade shows, tours and demos showed the interest in seeing the nozzle and its spray droplets. Many nozzle catalogues show a lot of coloured tables indicating nozzle size and spray quality, but if you have never seen droplets from instruments it is difficult to visualize spray quality or droplet density. Density is key these days because of the different nozzle types and orientation."
The tool is not targeted so much to make specific recommendations as it is to help producers with general information that lets them decide if an approach is right or wrong for their operation, says Storozynsky. "The Selector is based on AgTech's research methodologies and data and is simply another tool to help producers make decisions."
Producers accessing the Special Report are encouraged to provide their comments on the tool. If they wish, they can also sign up to test drive the initial version of the Selector online when it is launched, by providing their name and email address to Brian Storozynsky at the AgTech Centre. His email is and his phone is (403) 329-1212 (toll-free on the RITE line in Alberta).
"The goal is to test the tool, make changes necessary and then continue to add new information as it becomes available to help keep producers on the leading edge," says Storozynsky.
IMPACT herbicide approved as tank-mix with glypyhosate
Posted: June 16, 2009
BASF Canada has announced regulatory approval of a label expansion for its IMPACT herbicide.
The approval allows IMPACT to be applied as a tank-mix with glyphosate for use on glyphosate-tolerant corn for the 2009 growing season.
In its announcement, BASF says the registration provides seed and sweet corn growers with an effective herbicide that is crop-safe and also addresses their application window challenges.
For use in sweet and seed corn, IMPACT must be tank-mixed with atrazine, ASSIST and UAN 28%. This tank-mix provides control of common lamb's-quarters, common ragweed, Eastern black nightshade, green pigweed, lady's-thumb, redroot pigweed and wild mustard. As a Group 27 herbicide, IMPACT also provides control of triazine and Group 2 resistant weed biotypes.
Getting spraying results back on track
Posted: June 16, 2009
There's no doubt for many producers the start to this spraying season has been a difficult one, says Brent Flaten, Saskatchewan provincial pest control specialist. But making the right adjustments now can still result in a winning strategy.
One of the biggest issues for growers across Saskatchewan and other areas of the prairies has been cold weather and pre-seed burn. "A lot of people either didn't get their pre-seed burn when they were direct seeding, or if they did the control was rather poor," says Flaten.
"Now they're looking at fairly big weeds, with the crop just starting to come through. This makes doing the right things for staging critical."
The key is to make sure to match the right product for the right crop stage. "There's no getting around this. For example, products you can use spraying early, in the one or two leaf stage of cereals are limited. MCPAs need a three leaf stage and anything with the 2-4Ds needs a four leaf stage of cereals. Check the herbicide label for correct staging."
Matching when tank mixing is a bit trickier but equally important. Growers need to match not only the weeds, crop and herbicide, but also compatibility of the herbicides, stage of the weeds and even future rotation plans.
"There are many variables that can come into play," says Flaten, who recommends getting them all down on paper as a basis for decision making. "For example, some of our broadleaf weeds need hotter temperatures, whereas some grassy weeds such as wild oats will germinate in cooler weather. So your staging of broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds may be out of kilter for a certain tank mix. You have to watch that."
Similarly, growers right now who would normally consider mixing a grassy weed herbicide with a product containing 2-4D will in most cases find the crop is too young. "Then you have to look at another tank mix."
Plans for next year's crop are also critical, he says. Certain tank mixes may have residue that restricts re-cropping choices. "It pays to plan ahead. Cover off all your issues, including next year's plans, and make the appropriate choice with the help of your tank mix partner."
This year, a key concern for producers in Saskatchewan is also controlling Group 2 resistant Kochia, he points out. "Growers may have to go to either a non Group 2 herbicide, or if there's a Group 2 that you want to use and if it's tank mixable with, say, a Group 4, make sure that Group 4 component of that tank mix is strong enough to control the Group 2 resistant weeds by itself."
Eastern prairies battle wet and cold around spraying
Posted: June 16, 2009
Cool temperatures, soaked fields and late seeding are playing havoc with spraying plans for many applicators throughout Manitoba.
"All this and we're still looking at a couple more cold days and nights before we're through," says Kim Brown-Livingston, a Carmen-based Manitoba provincial farm production advisor. "These conditions make it very important to make careful spraying decisions."
Herbicides work best, both for crop tolerance and for efficacy on the weeds, when all plants are actively growing. Daily scouting is critical under poor conditions to pick a good window, or at least the best one available, for spraying.
"There's still a risk of frost at night, so that really puts a damper in your spraying plans. We always say wait as long as possible after a frost, but at some point you've got to spray." It's important for producers to be as patient as they can and look for the best opportunity.
Brown-Livingston is based in central Manitoba where extreme wet conditions, including some flooded land, have resulted in very late seeding. "Most of our growers are just done seeding now. They're up to a month behind because the wet fields were just not drying up."
This environment meant almost no pre-seed burnoff for growers in the area. "That means the in crop spraying has to be good – growers really need to be on top of it because they didn't get that first kick at the can."
Staging will also be affected, she notes. "A lot of our winter annuals are huge by now, because they didn't seem to mind the wet, so we're going to see escapes on winter annual spraying. A lot of the fields are too wet to get in there."
The bottom line is growers need to be on top of their game to get good weed control this year. Growers can't change the conditions. "The key is to use your knowledge and use your advisors."
While central Manitoba is behind the western part of the province, it is better off than the Interlake, where the wettest conditions are and few producers have been able to seed, she notes. "As a province we are behind, but things are particularly bad there."
Information on managing under difficult conditions and contact information for farm production advisors is available on the web at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture.
Managing cold and frost: Patience wins the race
Posted: June 16, 2009
Things can be hectic during spraying season, however when part of the challenge is fighting cold conditions the best results come from slowing down and getting things right.
General rule of thumb is, it's best not to apply herbicides when plants, whether crop or weeds, are still suffering from the effects of cold temperatures or a frost the night before.
"I know a lot of people say, 'well, I haven't got time to wait,'" says Ed Thiessen, technical crop manager with Syngenta. "But usually when you're under these conditions, and what helps put the situation under perspective, is that the weeds and crops aren't going to be growing very fast anyway, so urgency isn't of the essence. You don't have to be rushing around. It's better to wait until things warm up a little bit."
Temperatures at or below 2°C can effectively "shock" plants and it takes them a while to get active again. "It's not the technically correct term, but I tell farmers it's almost like the plants go dormant for a bit. In order for the weeds to be controlled, they need to take up the herbicide and they won't do that when they're in that state." Similarly the crop in that state is more vulnerable to suffer from the effects of the herbicide, especially if the products used are only marginally selective.
"I always tell growers, if it got really cold last night, hold off a bit. If things warm up the next day, wait until noon or so and then you can go," says Thiessen. "You're better to wait and get better value from the herbicide and maintain your crop safety."
Once the weather shapes up and gets into normal 7-10°C night temperatures, applicators can essentially operate anytime. "You can almost be going 24/7 if you want."
In the prairies, the persistent cold this year has combined with dryness on the western side and excess moisture on the eastern side to make conditions particularly challenging.
Those added stress elements make all the spraying decisions even more important. "One impact is you often face such an inconsistent staging. For example, in a dry environment, you can get one part of the field that gets a little moisture, where the crops and weeds are up, while other areas they haven't even emerged yet. With the excess moisture in Manitoba, the reverse can happen and make a real mess for staging as well."
All the more reason to slow things down a notch and make careful choices. "Also, pick a product that's got a wider range of staging both for the crop and the weeds. That will allow you to get the stragglers as well as the ones that are luckily enough to get away and are growing normally."