Investigating best practice in spray application was the topic of the AHDB event in Agri-Tech Week. The hands on event looked at the current technology, emerging themes and a peep into what is on the horizon.
Harry Fordham, Area Manager Essex and Kent Syngenta explained that its important to consider the wider context when looking to make spraying more efficient and precise. Check things like making sure the tractor tyres are of the right inflation (too full and they will cause a hard ride so the spray boom moves about more) and understanding the weather conditions (to maximise spray time) can provide optimum conditions.
There are only so many days a year when it is possible to spray so you have to travel at a reasonable speed to get it all done. But faster might mean you miss bits of the crop. This is where the selection of nozzle is really key. There are many different types and you need a balance between pressure in the nozzle, application rate and speed of travel of the boom.
Sam Stephenson, Syngenta looked at the emerging technology such as the use of map sensors and drones and variable spray rate technology , which is still a cause of lots of debate among farmers.
For the future, the new robotic precision spray tech was presented by Nikolaos Koukiasas, PhD student from Reading University. The farmers asked a lot of questions about the technology and its functionality but it is still early days for this approach and a concern that it will be over-hyped before it is made robust enough for routine use.
A key sticking point was that while farmers can spray cheaply there is little incentive to invest in precision technology as the pay-back is too long. The value of the crop needs to be high enough to justify the return on investment or there needs to be a policy to incentivise the adoption of best practice.
For more information: Teresa Meadows firstname.lastname@example.org, 07387 015465