Beluga drop hose delivers in-canopy spray coverage

Will Smart, Greenleaf Technologies

Spraying fungicides from within the canopy is a more efficient method of achieving good crop coverage, as compared to trying to penetrate the crop from above.

That’s the idea behind the Beluga drop hose — technology developed in Germany by Agrotop, and now distributed by Greenleaf Technologies in North America. RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin caught up with Greenleaf ‘s Will Smart last month at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, for a look at how the technology works.

In this video, Smart shows how the Beluga can be rigidly mounted to the sprayer boom and also attach to the nozzle body. At lengths of up to 72 inches, it hangs down into a corn canopy and can be equipped with two to three spray heads, each with two nozzles capable of targeting different areas of plants for fungicide, insecticide or foliar product application. (Story continues after the video.)

The system is modular, allowing growers to choose the height for spray heads. Growers can also shut off the spray heads and add a Y-Drop at the bottom for nitrogen application. “It’s basically two systems in one,” adds Smart.

The Beluga system was tested last year in Ontario by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs application technology specialist Jason Deveau and Port Rowan, Ont., cash cropper Dan Petker. They used a Beluga 60-inch drop with two spray heads in 30-inch corn. In his report, Deveau noted the following observations from the  sprayer operator on the Beluga drop hose performance:

  • Installing and uninstalling the drops took roughly 60 seconds each, including moving the ladder
  • Deflection was minimal, even when they were dragged perpendicular to the rows through headlands
  • Initially, it was a little unnerving not being able to see the spray but the operator quickly got used to it
  • There was no issue folding the boom or driving between fields with the drops installed
  • They noted the lugs on the front tires contacted the drops on tight turns, but adjustments were made
  • The drop hoses rinsed as easily as any nozzle
  • There were initial concerns that using 015s nozzles to maintain the target 20 gpa might cause plugging issues, but none occurred
  • The drops were resilient. The operator bent the hoses by lowering the boom and then dragged them along the ground. They returned to plumb and appeared undamaged
  • Once removed, the drops stored compactly and easily on a utility shelf, repacked in their original box

How about the bottom line? Based on Deveau’s analysis, the Beluga-directed spray system showed a $27.76/ac profit versus the unsprayed check; and a $33.37/ac profit versus overcast broadcast.

Smart notes that Beluga drop hoses will have limited availability in Canada for 2022, but wide distribution is expected in 2023.

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