Are drop hoses that travel through the canopy the best way to apply in-crop fungicides?
That’s a question Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) application technology specialist Jason Deveau has worked on for the past four years. It all started in 2019 when Deveau joined forces with OMAFRA plant pathologist Albert Tenuta and University of Guelph researcher David Hooker to run a “Corn Spray Rodeo” at Guelph’s Ridgetown campus.
“We tested lots of methods of application, five different nozzle arrangements, helicopters, planes, and just recently a couple of drones,” notes Deveau. They also tested drop hoses including the Y-Drop with 360 Undercover, as well as the Beluga, new drop hose technology developed in Germany and distributed by U.S.-based Greenleaf Technologies
Deveau was super impressed with the drop hose technology. “The results showed that a directed application from drop hoses (also known as drop pipes or drop legs) suspended in between the rows gave significantly higher deposits. It led us to wonder if the superior coverage from a directed application translated to improved yield.”
The application guru was especially impressed with the new Beluga — the product was stiffer and their unique low-profile nozzle body had less potential to snag. And, unlike homemade inflexible drop pipes, or other commercial solutions such as the Y-Drop with 360 Undercover, the Belugas were lightweight and did not need a break-away section to prevent damage.
Deveau says he’s always keen to focus research on management practices that can enhance disease control in crops like corn. “We know that just timing alone with label fungicides can suppress disease….We wondered if how we sprayed would have any significant impact.”
On this episode of the RealAgriculture Corn School, Deveau shares the results of research designed to test this hypothesis after he put the Beluga drop hose to work in a series of on-farm trials. Working with Port Rowan, Ont. grower Dan Petker, Deveau initiated a multi-year trial to compare the Beluga’s efficacy and return-on-investment in corn compared to conventional overhead technology and untreated checks.
In the final analysis, based on two years of data, the direct application with the Belugas versus an unsprayed check delivered a profit of $55.04/ac; and Belugas versus broadcast (overhead) turned a profit of $29.04/ac. Broadcast compared to the unsprayed check returned $26.00/ac. “What this tells us is it was worth spraying fungicide, and it was worth spraying with the Beluga versus an overhead method,” adds Deveau. (Story continues after the video.)
What makes the Beluga so effective? “It’s just simple physics,” says Deveau. “If you spray from overhead, that droplet’s got to drop through the tassel, make its way through the leaves, hopefully land on the leaf, and hopefully land on the silk. The further you go down into corn that’s eight feet high, the less and less spray you have available. But drops put your nozzle inside the canopy and spray sideways. It’s like a carwash in there, you simply can’t miss.”
Deveau also calculated a grower’s return on investing in 48 Beluga drop hoses ($9,600.00) with 192 nozzles ($1,920.00) — what’s required for a 120-foot boom on 30-inch centres. At a total cost of $11,520, based on his research, the Beluga drop hose method would pay for itself in 372 acres. Check out the full report at sprayers101.com.
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