Getting T2 fungicide applications right is critical to protect the flag leaf which can contribute to over 50% of yield in winter wheat.
Maximising product efficacy, minimising drift and optimising timing are the three most important factors to consider when it comes to application success at this crucial point in the crop cycle.
James Thomas, Syngenta application specialist, offers his top 9 tips, including advice for both in the yard and in the field.
In the yard
Ahead of spraying there are some fundamental, time-saving practical tips that can make all the difference to ensure that when conditions are right, you’re organised and ready to quickly and efficiently fill the sprayer.
1. Chemical store layout
Make sure you have products organised by category, with fungicides, herbicides and insecticides clearly segmented to make it easy to quickly identify the right products in line with your recommendations.
2. Spray records
Paper records have a tendency to blow away or get wet and illegible when outside, so consider transferring your spray records onto a whiteboard hung on the sprayer.
Then you can easily see which products are needed at what rates to save time when filling the tank while ensuring accuracy.
Choose manufacturers with products that don’t have a foil seal, as this can massively slow down the filling process.
The foil seal not only needs to be removed, but then washed and disposed of, which can prove fiddly and time consuming.
4. Rinsing packaging
When you’re filling the sprayer, it’s much better to first rinse containers with diluted product from the tank to help remove the product from the can, before switching to clean water for a triple rinse.
A quick one- to two-second blast with a good rinse nozzle can provide the best rinse using the least amount of water, which is another technique to improve efficiency.
5. Water storage
Rather than relying on mains water to fill the sprayer which can be limiting, consider having a water storage tank on-farm that could also harvest rainwater, as this can provide a constant water supply, and speed up the filling process.
In the field
Once in the field, minimising the effect of drift to ensure the product reaches the target is key. There are a few simple tips to follow that can improve application.
6. Boom height
This is the single biggest controllable factor for drift. If you increase the boom height from 50cm to 80cm, the effect of drift could be trebled.
Keeping boom height down will mitigate drift risk from wind, while ensuring correct coverage which benefits product efficacy.
7. Forward speed
As the forward speed increases, so too does drag, which increases the turbulence created behind the sprayer, meaning you’re more susceptible to drift.
If you slow down, you can get away with spraying in more marginal conditions, which can help with getting the application timing right.
Boom stability also becomes less of an issue, which benefits coverage and ultimately efficacy. Forward speeds should be no more than 12km per hour.
8. Nozzle selection
Selecting a drift reducing air induction nozzle, such as Amistar, can provide the best coverage as it has been designed specifically for applying fungicides to cereals while reducing drift.
The nozzle uses a venturi to create air bubbles filled with the sprayer liquid. When sprayed on the crop, the bubbles “pop” and the liquid is spread evenly over the leaf resulting in good coverage of the active ingredients, improving product efficacy.
9. Water volumes
Water volume is the biggest factor which can increase application efficiency. By cutting water volume from 200 litres/ha to 100 litres/ha, which can be done with products such as Elatus Era, output is increased by up to 30%.
Application trials have shown that this increase in output means growers can spray 130ha instead of 100ha in a day, so you can get across your farm quicker and get the application timing right.