Learn how to ensure the effectiveness of agricultural pesticides
Agrochemicals are effective products for controlling pests and diseases that attack crops. However, the results are not automatic. In fact, there is a lot of concern about the damage that these chemicals can bring to the environment and to people’s health.
This fear can be overcome if proper care is taken when applying these products. In order to help you ensure efficiency in the use of pesticides, we will explore this topic throughout this post. Check it out!
What is the true potential of pesticides?
Defensive agents are very important for the development of production since they protect the crop against harmful biological agents. In fact, they are very efficient and safe.
Before they reach the market to be commercialized, they go through a rigorous registration process, which includes toxicological evaluation tests supervised by competent bodies, in addition to environmental evaluation to find out what their impact is on the atmosphere, soil, and water. Certain practices, however, can reduce its potential, as we will see below!
What can hinder the application?
Although widely used, some practices can compromise the effectiveness of pesticides, and thereby reduce their efficiency.
Excessive and repetitive use of the same pesticides
If you purchase a product to treat a specific pest, using it several times during the same harvest is not appropriate. The pesticides are developed to treat some of the pest’s or disease’s mechanisms of action. Indiscriminate use causes the product to lose efficiency over time.
The effectiveness of the chemical starts above 90% (reaching 100% in some cases) and, over the years, this rate falls due to repetitive use. This occurs because, with the excessive and prolonged application, some targets start to become resistant.
It is, therefore, necessary to apply sustainable management methods, crop diversification, and alternation or rotation of pesticides that act in different ways. This can prevent the development of resistant pests or diseases in the field.
Drift occurs when the pesticides do not reach the desired locations due to the displacement of the product, either because of the action of the wind, which causes evaporation, displacement, or run-off of the product at the time of application.
This problem can occur due to the high volume of pesticide applied, producing large droplets, beyond the size that leaf surfaces are able to retain. As a result, the droplets cluster and drip onto the ground.
Drift can cause environmental damage when pesticides move to more sensitive crops, and is also a source of waste.
About 95% of growers use mixtures. If at the time of combining products in a tank, the farmer doesn’t know how the chemicals interact and react with each other, the effectiveness of the application can be compromised.
In fact, if the entire spraying process is not carried out properly, the efficiency of the products can be impaired. From the purchase of the product, the process of mixing the defensives until spraying, each phase generates losses, and if the farmer does it inadequately, the damage will be worse.
The water used in spraying may not be able to preserve the chemical properties of the defensives, reducing their effectiveness. One of the water factors that are involved in this is the pH, i.e. its acidity or alkalinity. For example, it has been observed that imidazolinone herbicides are more easily absorbed by the leaves when the pH of the water is around 4 or 4.5.
However, other water-related factors can also influence, such as:
- total hardness: marked by the presence of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), residues, and organic matter;
- high clay content: reduces the half-life of the product;
- quantity of ions: for example, Fe+3 and Al+3 ions can react with the pesticides and reduce their efficiency.
How to guarantee the efficacy of pesticides?
To be successful in pesticide application, it is important to follow good practices. Pay attention to the main ones!
The first step is to protect the operator against poisoning caused by pesticides. Although this does not influence the effectiveness of the product application itself, following the rules regarding the use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), such as gloves, apron, and boots, ensures total safety during the operation.
Also, you should pay attention to environmental safety, as it contributes to more sustainable production and reduces the waste in the use of chemicals in the harvest. For example, when the farmer works above the wind and temperature limits, the product may be lost to the environment through drifting.
Thus, it is necessary to respect the rules and limits defined in the package insert. If the farmer does not respect the rules, not only will this reduce the efficiency of the defensives, but it will also cause damage to the natural resources that surround the plantation, which are vital for farming.
Choosing the right product
Each crop has specific needs and risks. Therefore, it is very important that the farmer chooses the product carefully, ensuring that its efficiency is proven according to the objectives to be achieved.
The initial step is to identify which diseases or pests could cause damage to that specific crop. From there, the farmer must seek to know the defensive agents that are most appropriate for each type of crop and pest.
In addition, it is necessary to check whether the defensive is registered with competent bodies.
Pay attention to spraying
This is a key aspect because it is related to the tool by which the application of pesticides is carried out. Inadequate spraying can generate additional costs to the farmer due to product waste, especially when the area to be covered is very large.
Therefore, some factors must be taken into account at the time of spraying:
- target and application area: what is the objective of the procedure and where is it located? Is it on the leaves, soil, trunk, etc.;
- climate: factors such as temperature, wind speed, and air humidity influence the application efficiency;
- coverage and volume: it is necessary to define the correct proportion between coverage and volume of products applied;
- spray nozzles: each of these items has different applicability, making it necessary for the grower to choose the one that best suits their objectives.
A resource that assists the farmer in choosing the most appropriate nozzle is the Jacto Smart Selector, a smartphone app available for free download on Windows, Android, and iOS platforms.
To use it, it is not necessary to possess any technical knowledge. All you need to do is enter some data and the app will display a list with five alternatives of the most appropriate nozzles. It requires simple information, such as:
- wind speed;
- application speed;
- air humidity;
- spacing between nozzles.
Use technology in your favor
Several technologies can help the grower in the use of defensives, making the process more efficient.
Through telemetry in sprayers, for example, it is possible to use information about the best application conditions, such as meteorological and terrain data. In addition, the farmer can view records and verify whether it is being effective under the ideal conditions for a crop.
This resource is used by Otmis Maps, a software capable of reducing overlapping rates, preventing the product from being applied several times in the same place and therefore avoiding pesticide resistance.
Telemetry is part of a trend known as precision agriculture, which encompasses a set of advanced management techniques. These are methodologies that make use of data coming from electronic devices, such as GPS and sensors. This information provides the basis for decision-making in the field, optimizing the use of several products, such as pesticides and nutrients.
The correct application of pesticides depends on a lot of knowledge and practice in the field. Therefore, it is necessary to invest in the search for the best products, looking for companies and universities that invest in research and make available different models of equipment, besides offering improvement courses. It is also important not to neglect the support of an agronomist throughout the process.
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