This week was a good week to get into the fields and also to spray. Farmers are always watching the weather and wind speed is one of those things they pay close attention to if they are going to spray. Most farmers want the wind speeds to be under 15mph. While that can sometimes be hard to estimate, as soon as the leaves on the trees start moving that is a good indication that it is too windy. A few other things that they account for include; Spray tip size and spray pattern, droplet size and what they are spraying. This link just scratches the surface for all the possible spray tips that are available.
GPS guidance helps to get the right rate in the right place. Thanks to GPS you can set the rate that you want to spray and it will do it! If something breaks or gets clogged, an alarm will sound. This notifies the driver and helps to prevent over/under applications. The sprayer will also shut off if it is going over areas that have already been sprayed. This helps to prevent over application.
The correct rate of herbicide, and it is “so long, cover crops.” Applying the correct rate of chemicals is important when spraying. You have heard of Round-Up resistance; that happens when the correct rate is not used. If you apply the wrong rate and only stunt the plant instead of killing it, it leads the plant to build up resistance, and eventually the farmer will have to find a new way to remove weeds from his field. Spraying these cover crops instead of tilling them is better for the soil health. Tilling the soil would bring bare soil to the top that could potentially run-off into the water during a rain event. Tilling also disturbs the “homes” of all the good biologicals that are having a “field day” in the soil.
Keeping cover crops into the spring is helpful for water quality and soil heath. Having a growing crop helps to keep the soil in place and prevents erosion. The root system of plants helps hold the soil together, while also breaking up compaction. This allows for better infiltration of water. Imagine dumping a glass of water onto the concrete, it doesn’t all soak in. Now imagine dumping that same glass of water onto a pile of rocks. The space between the rocks allows water to move through the rocks. The same thing happens in soil. The cover crops help keep the soil healthy to allow for better water movement. If water is soaking into the soil, it’s not running off the top, carrying away nutrients and sediment, and polluting the water.