Death knell for fungicides?

Now it is past midday – we’d urge readers to look at the date of this article very carefully before reading!

Cereal growers could soon be abandoning fungicides to tackle diseases if an independent researcher re-investigating electrostatic controlled droplet application (CDA) spraying can fully exploit Eva Binad’s chance discovery.

Her find suggests that charged water alone, applied in the correct manner, has a dramatic impact on plant health.

Field trials last season produced, through simple human error, a huge surprise – so much so she is wary of relaying too much detail yet for fear of its impact on fungicide sales.

“Suffice to say that we believe we are onto something which could transform the way farmers control crop diseases,” says Eva Binad.

The team tested the new technique across a range of broad-spectrum fungicide doses on winter wheat.

Their mistake, on one plot only, was to omit the active ingredient.

The electrostatic CDA machine enhanced disease control from the fungicide irrespective of dose. But where charged water alone was accidentally applied, the control was even better – 99% plus.

So far the researchers are at a loss to explain the result, but having rechecked their procedure and figures they are convinced that it is scientifically valid.

“We’re particularly looking forward to this season’s work, but are slightly worried about what some of the big chemical manufacturers may have to say,” says Dr Binad.

CDA was all the rage in the early 1980s, and several attempts were made to increase its efficacy by charging the spray particles.

But for most practical purposes the simplicity and flexibility of the standard hydraulic sprayer won hands down on cost-effectiveness.

So in the UK the CDA concept faded from the farming scene – that is until Dr Binad began exploring other outlets for the modern paint technology on which she works.

Charged particle paint spraying is standard practice in many industries, and Dr Binad, who has being working closely with colleagues in Moscow’s Sopof Institute, felt agriculture was missing out.

So two years ago she decided to have another look at the results of CDA spraying in farming.

A literature search found thousands of references to promising trials, including some relayed in the pages of Farmers Weekly and its then sister magazine, British Farmer & Stockbreeder.

Her findings encouraged her and the Russian researchers to build a prototype electrostatic CDA sprayer combining their up-to-date knowledge of painting techniques with what they believed were the best older ideas.

Electrostatic CDA spraying

  • Fresh Russian research
  • Disease trials with prototype
  • Best control with water only
  • Implications for fungicides?

Eva Binad indeed….!

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