A Mobile Training Lab for Pesticide Application Technology
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, Nebraska has established a large effort in pesticide application research dating back to the 1970’s. In recent years, a large effort was put into establishing the Pesticide Application Technology (PAT) lab, equipped with a state-of-the-art greenhouse and wind tunnels for collecting droplet size measurements as well as conducting simulated field studies. The lab has also generated significant data from field studies on pesticide efficacy and field drift.
The state-of-the-art mobile training lab allows for national dissemination of the research being conducted at the University of Nebraska’s Pesticide Application Technology (PAT) Lab. This new tool will help better educate growers and applicators in a more “hands-on” approach. The new Mobile Training Lab allows the PAT lab to conduct trainings across the country on nozzle type and nozzle selection, pesticide application parameters, adjuvants, and other aspects of pesticide applications to ensure that applicators have the most current information available at their disposal. With increasing pressure to reduce drift, pesticide use, and resistance while increasing the sustainability and efficacy of crop production systems, there is a need to have leading edge training to applicators.
The program covers the most important factors to consider when trying to minimize pesticide drift. This includes understanding the importance of wind speed, wind direction, boom height, droplet size, and distance to sensitive areas. Participants learn about different tools for monitoring environmental conditions as well as simple things that can be done to mitigate drift incidences. The program also covers tank mixtures and how they affect droplet size as well as how droplet size can be managed for drift mitigation. Nozzle types and their spray pattern droplet sizes are covered in depth as well. Understanding what nozzles are out there and how to apply pesticides to maximize the efficacy and delay resistance is paramount.
The Mobile Lab consists of a complete self-sustained set of equipment, including tables, chairs, a projector and screen with resources needed to provide the latest training on pesticide application technology. The Mobile Lab includes a newly constructed miniature wind tunnel to demonstrate how small droplets move off-target and how drift reduction techniques such as nozzle selection as well as pressure and orifice size can influence particle size (see Figure 1). It also includes a spray table equipped with lighting, pulse width modulation and other current technologies to demonstrate spray pattern distribution, calibration, nozzle selection and the potential influence of adjuvants (see Figure 2). Lastly, the Mobile Lab houses a 4-wheeler with a sprayer so that in-field calibration and other important aspects of spray applications can be discussed. The Mobile Lab has a dedicated truck and enclosed trailer to move the equipment from location to location as needed.
The Mobile Lab is available for travel across the US to provide educational opportunities for pesticide applicators. It may be reserved for full-day and partial-day workshops, field day training, and one-on-one training at farm shows. The outcomes of these trainings are better prepared applicators and managers that can select the most appropriate application practices and techniques to reduce drift and maximize pesticide efficacy. With specific product labeling on how pesticides should be applied as well as constantly emerging technologies, coupled with the new data being generated at the PAT Lab, the new Mobile Lab provides a unique educational experience.
Figure 1. Miniature wind tunnel constructed to demonstrate how droplets move off-target and illustrate the differences in fine spray qualities compared to coarse spray qualities in drift. Measures 64" x 43" x 54".
Figure 2. Sprayer cart in the Pesticide Application Technology Mobile Lab. Measures 85" x 50" x 68".