Minimizing pesticide drift in vineyards
Disease and insect control is a critical factor in most commercial vineyards. Whilst such control may, in some seasons, be a small proportion of crop value, there is a demand from growers for increased efficiency of spraying. Attention to detail is necessary to improve efficiency of deposition, reduce drift and increase sprayer output.
I recall a discussion with a grape grower on Long Island, New York, who stated that drift management is all in the mind, it requires the grower to think about reducing drift before the legislators apply controls.
Spray drift of pesticides is an important and costly problem facing pesticide applicators. Drift results in damage to susceptible off target crops, environmental contamination to watercourses and a lower than intended rate to the target crop, thus reducing the effectiveness of the pesticide.
Pesticide drift also affects neighbouring properties, often leading to concern and debate. As more people choose to live in the picturesque setting of a vineyard and growers continue to sell plots to increase their revenue, so the debate will continue.
There are two types of drift, airborne drift, often very noticeable and vapour drift. The amount of vapour drift will depend upon atmospheric conditions such as humidity, temperature and the product being applied and can occur days after an application is made. Drift is influenced by many inter-related factors including droplet size, nozzle type and size, sprayer design, weather conditions and last but not least the operator.