Environmental assessment and phytosanitary efficacy of a drift recovery sprayer

Project Code PRR06-130

Project Lead

Bernard Panneton - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Objective

To determine the drift reduction, efficacy and environmental impact of a newly developed recuperating pesticide sprayer for use in grape production

Summary of Results

Background

With conventional airblast radial sprayers only 55% of the treatment solution is deposited on the foliage, 25% ends up on the soil and 20% goes away as airborne drift. Reducing off-target loss of spray solutions can lead to reduction in risk from pesticide contamination and better efficacy of pesticide applications. An alternative spray method was needed to avoid the off-target pesticide loss, especially in the context of enforcing legal buffer zone parameters close to sensitive areas (20-30 m in Québec). Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers had developed a new drift recovery sprayer (DRS) technology designed for use in apple orchards which combined the advantages and configurations of both tower and tunnel sprayers. A prototype of DRS was later adapted for use in vineyards and other crops with similar canopy geometry (e.g. raspberries). This study evaluated the potential of the vineyard DRS prototype to reduce ground contamination and airborne drift in vineyards.

Approaches

A comparative study was performed to evaluate the economic and environmental performance of DRS in maintaining efficacy, good canopy penetration and leaf coverage while reducing drift and recovering spray solution. Trials were conducted in a commercial vineyard using 2 sprayers: a conventional airblast radial sprayer equipped with proper baffles to target the air stream to the canopy and the DRS.

Results

The tests confirmed that the new design achieved a satisfactory balance between a good canopy penetration and leaf coverage, and good efficacy (15-20%) in pesticide recovery. It was demonstrated that the DRS technology reduced drift (ground deposition) by 90% and that it could be used to reduce buffer zones by up to 20 m without impacting the environment. Field trials showed that late in the season, when vine canopy reaches its full size and density, 10% of the applied spray can be recovered and recycled. An economic analysis based on drift reduction and pesticide savings indicated that the DRS sprayer pays for itself in 15 years under current regulations. The technology is more economically viable if recognized as a drift reduction method for buffer zone management, in which case, the payback period can be as short as 2½ years.

As a result of the outcomes from the work conducted in this project, a manufacturer of farm machinery in Quebec teamed up with the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada team in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and a tree fruit and berry farm to construct a 3-row commercial prototype sprayer based on the main features of the DRS design. This prototype will be tested on commercial apple orchards in 2011 and the following years.

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