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Vineyard view: the 'three Es' of successful spraying.

Almost every grapegrower will spray his vineyard multiple times during the year, no matter whether he farms organically, Biodynamically or "conventionally." That is due in large part to most grape varieties being very susceptible to one or more diseases. Most regions also have their share of insect, mite and weed pests that must be managed, often involving pesticide sprays.

Vineyard spraying costs money because most spray materials and application equipment are expensive, and equipment must be operated by people, whom are expensive to hire. Moreover, spraying's potential for off-site movement of spray material can impact the environment. Therefore, one would expect growers to pay considerable attention to spray equipment and spray application. In my experience, however, the amount of attention focused on these issues is never what it should be--in part because growers are very busy people and must constantly cut corners to get all their work done.

It is good when someone comes along to remind us that paying close attention to the factors associated with spraying is not only good business but also an important part of sustainable winegrowing. At the moment this someone is Cornell University professor Dr. Andrew Landers, whose book, "Effective Vineyard Spraying: A Practical Guide for Growers," was recently published. (See Wines & Vines issues May 2007 and June 2010 for Landers' articles about the subject.)

The book covers all aspects of vineyard spraying and is laid out in a logical way. It begins with a brief introduction presenting basic spraying principles to keep in mind, followed by five chapters discussing sprayer technology and the adjustments that can be made to improve spray deposition.

The middle chapters describe the various types and brands of canopy and herbicide sprayers, spray drift management and safety, and the remainder consists of chapters discussing effective vineyard spraying and spray operations management. It concludes with connecting effective vineyard spraying and sustainable winegrowing.

Included materials

"Effective Vineyard Spraying" comes with a CD containing lectures about nozzle selection and calibration to accompany the chapters about these topics, as well as important checklists for canopy and herbicide sprayers, instructions for building a device to measure spray distribution output from airblast sprayers called the Cornell Patternator and spray worksheets. During the next few paragraphs I will discuss what T thought were some of the highlights of the book.

Landers begins by saying: "Accurate application through practical innovation is the basis for 'Effective Vineyard Spraying.'" He states that the grower should apply a healthy mix of common sense with technology to achieve the best results. I have had several opportunities to attend Landers' presentations to grower groups. These presentations really resonate with growers due to Landers' ability to combine common sense with technology. The book accomplishes this goal as well.

He continues by saying, "Attention to detail will ensure that products are applied effectively, efficiently and with due attention to the environment." He calls this the "three Es" of successful spraying. I have long thought that sustainable winegrowing is about attention to detail, and it is clear from this book that effective spraying is no exception.

Landers emphasizes that as the heart of effective spraying, the target needs to be clearly defined, and the sprayer must be adjusted to provide maximum coverage, optimizing the amount of material applied and minimizing drift. He states that drift has become the No. 1 issue with spraying and devotes an entire chapter to it.

A successful spray is accomplished with the "four Cs": applying the correct product to the correct target at the correct time with the correct machine. Although the correct machine is critical to a successful spray, the author points out that like most aspects of agricultural production, successful spraying depends on good labor and good management. A motivated, well-trained operator ensures that a spray will be successful. Even though spray technology continues to advance, the need for good training continues.

Chapter 2 presents the basic layouts and components for traditional and modern canopy and herbicide sprayers. Diagrams and discussions outline how the various systems operate, as well as important components like the various tanks, pumps, hoses and valves.

The next chapter is devoted to nozzles. Although nozzles are small components of a sprayer, they are extremely important ones and a primary determinant of the spray quality and application. The author lists the functions, features, materials and the properties of each, including life expectancies, wear and how to clean them. Next is a detailed description and illustrations of nozzle types, including cone, hollow cone, fan, air shear, air induction and rotary, and how they operate. A description follows about how spray droplets are formed, what regulates their size and the properties of different droplet sizes. The end of the chapter lists the major makers of nozzles and their websites.

Application rates

Chapter 4 is devoted to nozzle selection and calibration. Application rate per acre is determined by tractor and sprayer speed, nozzle size and pressure in the sprayer system. In general, small droplet sizes are used for fungicide and insecticide/miticide sprays, moderate sized droplets for herbicides and large droplets for foliar fertilizers and pre-emergent herbicides applied to the soil. The chapter contains detailed presentations and examples of nozzle selections and calibrations. Other important facts: Slower sprayers lead to more uniform coverage, and greater speeds create variability in spray deposition. Despite the critical importance of tractor speed, the author points out that few tractors have accurate forward speed displays. Therefore he presents a detailed method for calculating tractor/sprayer speed and formulas for nozzle output. Once the nozzles are properly chosen and calibrated, chapter 5 discusses ways of positioning nozzles to effectively spray the target area and several methods for ensuring this is occurring.

Through graphics and discussion, chapter 6 presents the range of sprayers available for canopy spraying and how they operate (traditional designs, tower sprayers, directed air duct, Italian CIMIS, French Berthoud, Hardi Tango, multi-head fan sprayers, Micron and Protec, and Electrostatic sprayers.) Landers has spent years researching sprayers and sprayer component performance, and some important results are presented in tables throughout the book. A table about a sprayer performance field trial reported that more is not necessarily better: The best deposition measured was from a sprayer with the lowest application rate. Landers was quick to point out that better adjustment of the sprayer is required to give this more uniform coverage. Another section tackles tunnel sprayers, a type not used much in the west, which surround the vine canopy capturing spray material that does not stick to the vine. Research trials have shown them to be the best spray drift-reducing technology currently available, reducing drift by 90% compared to airblast sprayers. Furthermore, in early-season sprays when vine canopy is minimal, tunnel sprayers recycle about 85% of the applied material. Tunnel sprayers have been shown to reduce the use of pesticides by about 35% when averaged across the entire season.

Chapter 6 also contains a discussion of multi-row sprayers, their designs and performance. For example, research has demonstrated that spraying both sides of the canopy at the same time increases deposition by up to 50% while improving spray uniformity distribution in the canopy and reducing the amount of spray loss to the ground. Herbicide sprayers are discussed in this chapter as well, and it concludes with a list of sprayer manufacturers and their websites. A detailed discussion of handheld and small sprayers for smaller vineyards is presented in chapter 7.

As mentioned earlier, spray drift has become the most important issue for vineyard spraying, in part due to the increased urbanization of traditional rural areas where vineyards are located. An entire chapter is devoted to this topic and contains a discussion about the causes of drift and how to mitigate it. Some mitigation techniques are based on common sense, and some can be achieved with very inexpensive practical solutions such as the "Cornell donut," which is a piece of plywood with a hole in the middle that is bolted to the intake of an airblast sprayer, reducing the airspeed of sprayer output. This chapter is followed by one that discusses safety and reducing operator contamination and exposure.

Prevent poor performance

Chapter 10 starts by reminding the reader of "the 6 Ps" of vineyard spraying, which are proper prior planning prevents poor performance. The reader is then taken through a comprehensive and practical planning schedule, including assessment of the pest situation, selection of the material to be sprayed, equipment to be used and its maintenance. Chapter 11 provides guidance for managing spray operations, and it makes suggestions to improve spray logistics, including some points to consider when buying a new sprayer.

In the penultimate chapter, "Precision Spraying in the Vineyard," the author defines precision spraying as "applying sprays precisely to the target using human and engineering methods to ensure the exact amount of spray is used." The discussion includes targeting sprayer airflow at the canopy and the role of electronics in precision spraying such as foliage sensors, direct injection sprayers, software, smart cards and navigation systems.

The final chapter puts sustainable plant protection in the context of sustainable viticulture combining the "three Es" of sustainability--economically viable, environmentally sound and socially equitable--with the "three Es" of crop protection--effectiveness, efficiency and environment.

The 260 pages of "Effective Vineyard Spraying" by Dr. Andrew Landers is an essential addition to the library of any grapegrower, whether small, medium or large. At $60.50 including shipping, it is affordable for most and well worth the investment. Visit effectivespraying.com for information on the book and how to order it.

RELATED ARTICLE: Highlights

* The "three Es" of vineyard spraying are spraying effectively, efficiently and with due attention to the environment.

* A successful spray is accomplished with the "four Cs": applying the correct product to the correct target at the correct time with the correct machine.

* Few tractors have accurate forward speed displays. "Effective Vineyard Spraying: A Practical Guide for Growers" provides simple ways to calculate tractor speed and nozzle output formulas.

Dr. Cliff Ohmart is vice president of professional services for SureHarvest. Previously he served as research/IPM director at the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission. He has been writing about sustainable winegrowing issues for Wines & Vines since 1998. Contact him through edit@winesandvines.com.
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Title Annotation:GRAPEGROWING
Comment:Vineyard view: the 'three Es' of successful spraying.(GRAPEGROWING)
Author:Ohmart, Cliff
Publication:Wines & Vines
Date:Mar 1, 2011
Words:1701
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