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New Technology Cuts Water Rate For Pesticides

New Technology Cuts Water Rate For Pesticide Applications

Field trials have begun in potato and onion fields at Pukekohe to establish how these crops can be sprayed with less water for pest-killing.

The trials by Alpha Research of Pukekohe and Forest Research at Rotorua, on behalf of Elliott Chemicals Ltd, could result in growers more than halving their water usage - from about 500 litres a hectare to 200 litres.

The 30-month project has received investment from Technology New Zealand, part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. "Laboratory track-sprayer tests have been done, and we're confident enough to shift them out to field plots," says Elliott's development manager, Peter Palmer.

The project entails finding the right additives - called adjuvants - that will aid water-spreading, penetration and retention.

"The research additives, with the trade names Du-Wett and Bond-Xtra, have enabled water rates to be reduced by more than half over the entire growing season in potatoes, with no adverse effects on pest and disease control," Mr Palmer says. "They have achieved the project's aim."

Extensive grower trials on potatoes during the summer have begun as final confirmation of the technology before it is commercialised.

"Track-sprayer retention studies on onions have now been completed," he says. "Formulations for reduced water rates - down from 500 litres to 200 litres a hectare - have been selected for small-plot onion field trials."

The project could result in many benefits for growers.

"The practical consequences to growers of reducing water rates for pesticide applications are very significant. It means quicker turnaround, more hectares sprayed per load, smaller tractors and fuel use, smaller spray rigs, less soil compaction, and greater water conservation," Mr Palmer says.

"That's money in growers' pockets."


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