It’s no secret that in modern crop production, pesticides are necessary tools of the trade to manage insects and diseases or to prevent infestations, even with advanced integrated pest management practices. But for these pesticides to be effective, they must be applied correctly. So, you’ve purchased the newest pesticide, you sprayed your crop, seemingly getting adequate coverage, but still seen low yield and produce loss due to pest infestation at harvest. Why?
If your product is not working, it’s likely due to poor spray coverage. Pesticides developed in a controlled lab environment advertise high rates of effectiveness for pest eradication, but in the open environment of a field with uncontrollable factors like weather fluctuations, equipment malfunctions and variances in migrating insect timelines, the situation is infinitely more complicated BUYMYHOUSE7. The number one determining factor for how well a pesticide works is how well the product is administered. Coverage is therefore key. Furthermore, some sprays are expensive, so proper coverage is necessary for the highest economic benefit.
Here are our six essential tips to follow for farmers and growers to improve pesticide effectiveness by maximizing spray coverage:
PART ONE: KNOW YOUR CROP, PESTS AND PESTICIDES
TIP #1. KNOW YOUR CROP
While pesticides may once have been “one size fits all,” science has made great leaps and pesticides are now more targeted than ever. Before choosing a pesticide to apply, know the ins and outs of your operation.
What are you planning to spray?
- Are you growing organic or conventional crops? To be certified organic and OMRI listed, pesticides must be carefully chosen. Conventional crops have a more comprehensive range of options.
- Is the crop fruit-bearing and, if so, does it have a harvest timeline? Regulations require pesticides to have been last sprayed a specific number of days or weeks prior to harvesting to ensure the pesticide has disseminated before being consumed.
- What is the crop density and height? A crop growing knee-high will have different sprayer needs than orchard crops, as the sprayer will have to be taller, for example.
Where are you planning to spray?
- Is your operation indoor or outdoor? Indoor operations require different sprayers than outdoor operations; outdoor operation sprayers must be calibrated to compensate for weather conditions.
- Does your area have restrictions? Operations near certain roads, public spaces, protected wildlife areas, residential communities, schools, or protected neighboring fields are legally restricted to when and how they can spray. Aerial spraying specific pesticides are prohibited in many of these situations.
- Where is your operation located? Pesticides work differently in areas of the Midwest where it is very humid, and the temperature fluctuates seasonally than in California where it is dry and sunny, and freeze doesn’t occur. Microclimates also must be considered; on a large tract of cropland, a small downhill area can trap moisture and cause pockets of fog with high humidity or temperature inversion that can cause sprays drift.