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New Application Method for Reducing Pesticide Rate/ha and Cost in Plant Protection

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Ideally pesticides are sprayed on crops to achieve as uniform and complete coverage of the plant surface where the pests are located. Typically, sprays are applied with hydraulic nozzles that produce droplets that vary in size. Consequently, in addition to deposition on the crop, losses occur when large droplets coalesce and 'run-off' leaf surfaces, while small droplets may remain airborne. This run-off and drift result in waste and increase environment pollution without any benefit in increasing efficacy. However, when the farmer aims at complete coverage of the plant canopy and examines the pesticide label, it is not always easy to calculate the right amount of water to use with the pesticide to optimize its effect on insect pests, diseases or weeds. For example, if the label states a fixed pesticide rate/ha, the volume of water used will determine the dilution and thus concentration of active pesticide in the spray; a factor that may affect the biological efficacy. On the other hand, when the concentration (g/l) is fixed, the choice about volume/ha (l/ha) will affect how much of the formulated product is used and determine the pesticide dose/ha (g/ha). Farmers used to be advised to spray to 'run-off' but today the trend is to minimize spray volumes. Recent research has highlighted that full and even coverage may not represent the most efficient or economic way to deliver a pesticide. According to the Sustainable Use of Pesticide introduced by the European Community (law 128/2009) more attention must be given to the way pesticides are applied, as more efficient application could be one of the most critical aspects related to minimizing residues. More efficient pesticide usage must be found and new technology may help to lower the amount of pesticides used (dosage/ha), which is one of the targets of the EU.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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