Why everything you know about spraying products bears repeating — again

April 21, 2023 -  By
Brett Corbett

Brett Corbett

Spraying turf to control weeds, insects or diseases is like “déjà vu all over again.

Sure, it’s a well-known routine, but that’s exactly why attention to detail is important every time you or any of your staff applies landscape management products. There are two important reasons for this vigilance:

1. To ensure the safety of people and the environment.

2. To maximize the performance and realize the full value of the products you use.

Join me in a brief review of best management practices for landscape management product applications on turf. When it comes to target pests, product selection, equipment and application conditions, we want you to get the most out of every application.

Pests and products

Whether you’re talking about weed, disease or insect control, it’s critical to use a product specifically designed to provide the level of control you need. 

(Photo: Imagesines/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Photo: Imagesines/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Modern technology has improved the efficacy, efficiency and, in the best cases, cost-effectiveness of landscape management products. From single actives to products featuring multiple active ingredients, you have a wide range of options. These options are also a benefit when it comes to considerations for resistance management and application strategies.

Before using any product (here it comes): Always read and follow label directions. Déjà vu? Of course, and for very good reasons. 

The label ensures you get the best results from the product while keeping yourself or your applicators safe. It also protects you from complaints should any problems occur. If you mix products, the label provides explicit information on compatibility and uniform mixing procedures. 

Remember, water pH can affect both product efficacy and stability. Always adjust the pH level to match label recommendations. It’s also important to check the label for information and requirements on using adjuvants (i.e., a surfactant, sticker or penetrant). Some products specify using a certain adjuvant or class of adjuvants and give precise instructions for mixing and agitation. Adjuvants can affect droplet size, evaporation rates and coverage to enhance product efficacy. They also can help reduce drift.

When you follow label application instructions and record your rates, dates, weather conditions and additional information like nozzle type, size and spray pressure, you have information that can protect you from situations, including performance issues and drift-related incidents.

 Equipment and application

As you well know, equipment selection and setup are keys to a successful pesticide application. In lieu of creating a long list of sprayer types and specific functionalities, the best advice I can give is to use the appropriate spray equipment for each individual spray trip.

General maintenance and inspection of the entire sprayer system is a must before applying any product. All components — tank, nozzles, pump, gauges — should be checked for proper functionality. Again, this should be a routine procedure before and after each application. 

One of the most significant components of an accurate and effective application is one of the smallest parts of the sprayer: the nozzle. Available in an assortment of sizes and types, select the proper nozzle for rate, pressure and speed as recommended on the product label. There is no universal nozzle, so be certain to use the right nozzle required for the specific product application. Nozzles are by no means maintenance-free. Check flow through on each nozzle by running clean water through the sprayer to ensure they are not damaged or plugged.

 Another item on the checklist is calibration. Calibrate your sprayer to verify the accurate application rate in gallons per acre and to ensure the nozzle flow maintains the constant rate required by the product you intend to apply. For safety, use clean water to calibrate. Even if your sprayer comes with a rate controller, you should manually calibrate it before applying any product.

 Finally, safety should always be your first priority. Always use the required personal protection equipment and apply both common sense and good sense before you start the spraying process. 

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