Tools to reduce drift come in many forms, like liquid

There’s more to spray-drift management than nozzle selection, boom height, ground speed and atmospheric conditions.

Some producers are adding low-drift adjuvants their tanks.

There are a number of reasons farmers are cranking up their drift reduction efforts. Spray drift can damage crops adjacent to the target field. That’s a financial loss when it’s a farmer’s own crop, but it may result in a bigger financial loss if it’s the neighbour’s.

Putting product on the target makes good sense in terms of chemical efficacy. If a grower is spending $20 per acre on product and a quarter of it either blows away as fine spray or bounces off the leaves as big droplets, then your crop is not receiving the full benefit.

One of the more recent developments motivating farmers is public scrutiny. Farmers know there’s a strong desire by many members of the public to increase regulation of all agriculture chemical use.

WinField United’s Dave Van Dam says Canadian farmers are starting to consider drift-control agents as part of their crop protection plans.

He said drift-control agents are especially important in areas where a variety of crops are grown and a wide range of crop protection products are applied. Diversity of crops increases the risk of potential herbicide damage by a neighbouring spray application. Drift-control agents are engineered to optimize spray droplet size so more active ingredient reaches its intended targets.

That not only reduces drift, but it enhances the product investment and keeps neighbours happy. It has so far proven impossible to design a nozzle that emits all droplets in the desired size. If that could be accomplished, the ideal spray would have all medium-sized droplets.

“If 20 to 30 percent of your herbicide is going through the sprayer and not hitting the intended target, then you’ve lost 20 to 30 percent of the value in your investment. InterLock helps protect your investment by creating a spray pattern with more optimal-size droplets that hit the intended target,” says Van Dam.

Drift-control agents help in the battle against herbicide-resistant weeds, says agronomist Jason Morrow of Double Diamond Farm Supply in southwestern Manitoba.

“When farmers get the right amount of herbicide active ingredient onto the plant, they’re going to get better weed control. If they’re losing some of that herbicide to drift or because small spray droplets evaporate prior to plant uptake, they’ll probably see more weed escapes. In some cases, lack of good spray coverage means weeds might be damaged by the herbicide but not completely killed. Those types of situations promote the development of herbicide-resistant weed populations.

“We went from having no acres of InterLock sprayed to having 72,000 acres in two years. I think everybody who has used it has come back for more.”

“There are cases where farmers had planned on a two-pass herbicide application, but by adding InterLock to their tank mix they achieved such effective control that they eliminated a second application.”

Senior agronomist Sarah Anderson of G-Mac’s AgTeam in Saskatchewan says the value proposition of drift-control agents is getting more active ingredient on-target.

“Greater herbicide coverage is necessary for optimal performance, especially for contact products. Adding a drift-control agent like InterLock just increases the chance that the active ingredient you put into the tank is going to land where it should,” says Anderson.

She started doing field trials with her customers in 2017 and says initial results are positive. “Sometimes the InterLock effect has been subtle, but we do have some examples where the visual effect is so apparent that you can see it show up in the crop canopy or even in the spray pattern as it’s leaving the boom.”

Anderson adds that drift-control agents are more present in the market today than when she started her career.

“It’s clear that drift-control agents help optimize spray applications. InterLock, or any drift-control agent, is not going to allow growers to spray in unfavourable weather conditions they normally shouldn’t be spraying in. I’m hopeful InterLock might turn good agronomic practices into even better ones.”

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