Good Fruit Grower

December 2011

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 79

New Equipment & Technology Spraying with sprinklers O The Solid-Set Canopy Delivery system would spray orchards without tractors and sprayers. by Richard Lehnert n a cold rainy day with apple scab threatening, wouldn't it be nice to push a button labeled "Fungicide" and let the orchard spray itself? Spraying is one of those things all orchardists have to do. Whether conven- tional or organic, they spend a lot of time filling sprayers, mixing chemicals, and driving up and down fruit tree rows, blasting away. "Orchard spray technology has not kept up with the changes that have taken place in the horticultural side of tree fruit production," says Dr. Matt Grieshop, a Michigan State University entomologist. There should be a better way. He and fellow researchers are looking for one. Armed with a $2.5 million Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant (and $2.5 million more in matching funds), they are mounting a project to totally change the way crop protectants, nutrients, pheromones, and growth regulators are applied. If it all works, you can say goodbye to your airblast and tower sprayers. Say hello to fixed, permanent spray application systems you build right into your high-density apple or cherry orchard when you install the trellis system. You might be able to retrofit existing orchards as well. The researchers call it the Solid-Set Canopy Delivery system. It'll probably look like another irriga- tion line or two, not on the ground but higher up in the trees, strung along trellis wires, with micro-emitters in or over the trees. The project, which was funded for two years, involves three directors: Greishop, Dr. Jay Brunner at Washington State University, and Dr. Art Agnello at Cornell University, Geneva, New York. The team of 28 scientists includes engineers, entomologists, horticulturists, pathologists, economists, social scientists, and extension educators. Traditionally, growers have used airblast sprayers to apply pesticides to apple trees, creating a vast plume of spray, a variable proportion of which hits the target. The result is often poor distribution within the canopy leading to ineffective disease or insect control, off-target drift leading to environmental pollution, and economic inefficiency. With smaller trees in fruiting walls grown in tall spindle and slender spindle designs, and canopies no more than a few feet thick, huge air volumes are no longer needed to get good coverage, Grieshop said. In the new high-density systems, infrastructures like trellises are already being built that would support a fixed spray application system. And the economics and social dynamics are changing as well—in directions that favor such a system and don't favor continued use of airblast technology. In some preliminary work done starting in 1998 by Drs. Art Agnello and Andrew Landers at Cornell University in New York, a fixed-in-place system gave more uniform spray coverage than airblast sprayers, Grieshop said. In a paper published in 2006, they reported how they developed and tested a fixed spraying system to improve 24 DECEMBER 2011 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - December 2011