Agricultural spray drift is a problem as the wind carries pesticide droplets away from the targeted site. Recent incidences on several NZ orchards have caused several hundreds of thousand dollars’ worth of damage to grape crops and kiwifruit.
Lincoln Agritech’s Chemical Application, Research and Training (CART) group conducted a six-year government-funded research programme, “Protecting NZ’s Environment from Pesticide Exposure”, to find out more about spray drift and how to mitigate it. The project, funded by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) involved a range of activities including measuring agricultural drift on typical NZ crops, investigating the effectiveness of drift reducing technologies and educating people about best practices.
Lincoln Agritech worked with a range of research partners including SCION to model spray drift, Plant Protection Chemistry to research how sprayed droplets deposit on leaves and University of Otago to determine how pesticide sprays can drift away from the applied area.
With support from the forestry, horticultural and arable sectors, Lincoln Agritech were able to conduct experiments in NZ and conduct mathematical models of spray drift for 200 pesticides. Their work contributed towards improving AGDISP (“Agricultural Dispersal”), the internationally recognised software used by many pesticide regulators around the world for assessing drift risks.
The research also found that certain technologies reduced drift by 33-59%. Lincoln Agritech ran regular educational workshops with producers, council staff and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), spray contractors, and manufacturers of sprayers and chemicals to relay their latest findings and discuss best practice standards.
Although the MBIE programme has now completed, Lincoln Agritech continues to work closely with commercial entities and organisations such as GrowSafe, Zespri, Horticulture NZ and the Foundation for Arable Research as well as aerial spray contractors in the agricultural aviation industry.
Learn more about our spray drift programme here:
Youtube video clip
Spray drift research at Lincoln Agritech
- “Agrichemical spray drift: why it’s a problem and what we can do about it” by Rory Roten, NZ Grower, Vol 70, No. 10
- “Sensor controlled sprayer for orchard application” by Rory Roten and John Paul-Pratt, The Orchardist, December 2015