Accuracy of Pesticide Applicators

Determining Accuracy of Pesticide Applicators : Dr. Ozkan

Summary:  Pesticide application at the appropriate rate is necessary for economic benefits and satisfactory pest control. Educational efforts have helped farmers reduce pesticide application significantly.

Situation:  Applying pesticides at the proper rate is essential to achieve satisfactory pest control. Too much pesticide wastes money and may increase the risk of polluting the environment. Pesticide applied less than the label rate is likely not to be effective requiring second, third applications to treat the target crop. Ohio is one of the leading states in the amount of total pesticide consumed. Approximately 9 M acres of corn, soybeans, and other small grain fields are treated with some sort of pesticides at a cost of $20/acre.

Response:  Sprayer Calibration Clinics are conducted to determine if improvements can be made in the way farmers apply pesticides. Findings were similar to what researchers have found in some other states. Two third of the sprayers tested were not applying pesticides within the plus or minus 5% of the intended application rate which is recommended by USDA and EPA. Roughly one-third of the applicators were over applying chemicals by 22%. Strong educational programs in Ohio have been conducted in all of Ohio's 88 counties to teach farmers how to properly apply pesticides.

Impacts:  If recommended practices are followed, field crop producers in Ohio can save up to $8 M per year.  If sprayers used in orchards, vegetables, turfgrass, etc., are taken into consideration, the savings resulting from sprayer calibration programs could easily reach $100 M per year.