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Zero Sprayer Drift Sought by Coalition

March 12, 2013
By: Nate Birt, Top Producer Deputy Managing Editor google + 

While environmental factors such as wind make it challenging for farmers to spray with 100% on-target efficiency, that goal was a focus of a coalition and American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) committee work that convened recently comprising the machinery, chemical and research sectors.

"With these kind of complex problems that require mutual integration from different stakeholder communities, there’s no way that one industry segment can step up and solve the problem," says David Valcore, who has chaired the Spray Drift Task Force Technical Committee since 1996.

Participating in the meeting held in conjunction with the recent Ag Connect Expo & Summit in Kansas City were representatives of ASABE, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and CropLife America.

The discussion focused on obtaining standards support and evaluating proposals from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which has proposed a test bench for rating the drift potential of self-propelled sprayers that manufacturers anywhere in the world want to sell to farmers and other operators. ISO standards affect global requirements for trade and food-safety alliances, as well as equipment suppliers, Valcore says.

The test bench presents challenges to U.S. farmers because it is geared toward European agriculture, where smaller sprayers are more common, Valcore says. For example, one component of the test bench would require drift testing behind sprayers at near-zero windspeeds. That leaves a very limited window for outdoor testing given U.S. weather patterns, Valcore says.

For some time, the industry has recognized the need for a U.S. national indoor testing facility for application equipment used to apply crop-protection products, he says. While such a facility doesn’t yet exist, an effort is moving forward with a draft proposal with the goal of presenting it to stakeholders this year. The purpose of the document is to identify options for U.S. agricultural resource needs in the area of chemical application.

The function of such a coalition "depends on the stakeholders’ priority needs, but one of the overarching goals is for ag sustainability with the aim point of zero off-target impact," Valcore says. That means chemicals reach targeted plants without carryover into neighboring fields, waterways or other adjoining areas.

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