Plants can’t eat rocks

There are more than a dozen decisions to make before the sprayer hits the field. Are conditions right? Are the tank-mix partners correct? Do I have the right nozzles? How’s my water? Should I be adding in something more?

The key to making the right call for these and all the other decisions that go into an effective crop protection pass is understanding all the factors at play. From inversions and weather conditions, to nozzle choice, and on to understanding droplet behaviour, it all adds up to a better pass.

Some factors are tough to control, but there are technologies both on the sprayer and in the tank that can help, and some are as simple as a water test.

On the January 17th episode of The Agronomists, WinField United’s senior researcher Greg Dahl joined Tom Wolf to discuss the importance of water quality, tank mix additions, and more. Dahl’s connection dropped about half-way through the episode, and I promised we’d cover some key topics with him after the fact (see full audio below).

There are two particular topics that Dahl provides insight on. One is water pH and why adding acidifiers is likely not a smart decision (or necessary, in many cases); and two, how plants can’t eat rocks.

Huh?

Dahl explains that it’s important to think about not just what goes in the spray tank, but what happens to droplets after they leave the nozzle. It’s also about more than drift, though that is always a concern, but in very hot and dry circumstances, droplets can actually hit a leaf and the water evaporates before the plant can take in the active ingredient. A crystal (that is, a rock) is not available to the plant.

In Canada there are limited products to help with this, but one of them is InterLock, and Dahl’s work was instrumental in bringing the adjuvant to market. In the interview below, Dahl explains how it works, and further explains the rock-eating analogy.