Effective spray application ensures highest efficacy for the product, gaining best possible weed kill and reducing the number of survivors. All spray applications need to be monitored and any survivors removed, reducing the spread of herbicide resistance.
Spray application is a technical field and growers need to make sure their equipment and application techniques are spot-on. The GRDC Spray Application GrowNote provides detailed information and about 80 videos to demonstrate key skills.
The focus of spraying herbicide needs to be on doing the job right so the weeds receive the correct dose and die, and this includes reducing the air borne fraction to a bare minimum.
Bill Gordon’s 10 Tips for Reducing Spray Drift
- Choose all products in the tank mix carefully.
- Understand the product mode of action and coverage requirements.
- Select (and check) the coarsest spray quality that will provide effective control.
- Expect that surface temperature inversions will form as sunset approaches and will likely persist overnight and even beyond sunrise on many occasions. DO NOT SPRAY.
- Use weather forecasts to inform your spray decisions.
- Only start spraying when the sun is about 20 degrees above the horizon and when the wind speed has been above 4–5 km/hr for more than 20–30 minutes, and clearly blowing away from any adjacent sensitive crops or areas.
- Set the boom height to achieve a double overlap of the spray patterns.
- Avoid higher spraying speeds.
- Leave buffers unsprayed if necessary and come back.
- Continue to monitor conditions, particularly wind speed, at the site during the spray operation.
- How can I manage summer weeds without spraying at night
- Webinar – Stop the drift
- Webinar – ‘Spray wisely and well’
- Are you going spraying or killing weeds?
High water rates don’t have to slow you down
Some growers are concerned that increasing the water rate when applying herbicide will slow down their spray operation and cost them money. However, the biggest financial loss during spraying usually comes from a failed spray job.
To keep your spray operation as time efficient as possible when using more effective and reliable application volumes, you can:
- Use nurse tanks around the farm to reduce the time spent travelling back to a central re-fill point.
- Use a larger pump, e.g. 2.5 inch, to make re-filling quicker.
- Pre-mix the batch while the sprayer is operating. Many mixes can be held in the mixing tank for up to 6 hours. However, wettable granules and suspension concentrates will need agitation to keep them in solution.
For pre-emergent herbicides in high stubble situations, carrier volume has a large effect on the level of control achieved. Across four trial sites Dr Borger’s research demonstrated that ryegrass control with trifluralin or Sakura® increased from 53% control when the carrier volume was 30 L/ha to 78% control when the carrier volume was increased to 150 L water/ha in high crop residue ground cover situations.
Water quality and mixing order
Water quality is often overlooked as a possible contributor to herbicide failure and can lead to confusion over the herbicide resistance status of weeds on a property.
Water should be considered as one of the chemicals in any mix, given that water quality varies markedly depending on its source. Getting the mixing order right is essential for effective spray results.
Sometimes adding an adjuvant is beneficial and sometimes it is detrimental; and there is an art to knowing how to best deploy these additives.
When weeds are susceptible to the applied herbicides, the effectiveness of adjuvants generally goes un-noticed. Correctly applied adjuvants can reduce the impact of low level herbicide resistance by helping to maximise the amount of herbicide taken up by the plant.