Meeting droplet size specifications for aerial herbicide application to control wilding conifers
Keywords:herbicide, aerial spraying, AGDISP, Nozzle, Droplet spectrum, Herbicide drift
Large areas of New Zealand are being aerially sprayed with herbicides to manage ‘wilding’ conifer spread. The purpose of the study was to obtain and analyse droplet spectra produced by nozzles commonly used for wilding conifer spraying to determine whether or not operational recommendations for a target droplet size class (~350 µm) are being met. Droplet spectra were measured in a wind tunnel for 27 nozzle x 3 operating condition (nozzle angle, air speed and pressure) combinations tested for each of three spray mixes. AGDISP, an aerial spray application simulation model, was used to quantify the field performance implications of changes to droplet spectra parameters. Only one nozzle, the CP-09, 0.078, 30°, met the target droplet size specification when used at 45° but not at 0°. However, under these conditions, this nozzle produced a large driftable fraction. All but one of the other scenarios tested produced much larger droplet sizes. Operational spray mixes tended to slightly increase the potential for spray drift compared with the water control. The CP-09, 0.078, 30° nozzle used at 45° met the operational droplet size specification but is more sensitive to changes to nozzle angle (0° versus 45°) than the other nozzles tested. None of the three Accu-FloTM nozzles tested met the target droplet size specification. However, the Accu-FloTM nozzles produced very few fine droplets making them good choices for reducing spray drift potential.