Spraying
New for 2019, BASF will introduce Serifel, an innovative, new fungicide with three modes of action to target powdery mildew and botrytis in grapes.
Published in Diseases
Researchers at the Fort Valley State University have been working to develop a robotic solution for monitoring and spraying peach orchards.
Published in Fruit
Syngenta Canada Inc. is pleased to announce the registration of Vibrance Ultra Potato as a new seed piece treatment for the suppression of pink rot and control of key seed- and soil‑borne diseases, including late blight.
Published in Diseases
Wageningen University & Research uses computer models to develop sustainable management strategies in the control of potato late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans.

At the moment, large amounts of fungicides are used to control the disease. Organic farmers face an additional challenge because they are not allowed to use these chemicals. From an environmental point of view, these chemicals are also very polluting and therefore sustainable late blight management strategies are needed.

In Ph.D research study, computer models have been used to investigate how the disease spreads in an agricultural landscape and to analyze the effect of growing resistant varieties.

In Francine Pacilly's Ph.D. research, computer models have been used to investigate how the disease spreads in an agricultural landscape and to analyze the effect of growing resistant varieties.

These models show that an increase in the number of potato fields with resistant varieties increases the risk that aggressive strains of the pathogen emerge and spread.

This risk decreases if more than 50 per cent of the acreage of potato fields consists of resistant varieties. So, many resistant potatoes are not yet available so alertness is required. Various strategies are available to limit the consequences of a breakthrough, for example the spatial allocation of crops in combination with the use of small amounts of fungicides to limit the environmental impact.

In addition, growing resistant varieties with multiple resistance genes reduces the risk of susceptibility to the potato disease. It is expected that these type of varieties will enter the market soon.

Last year workshops with farmers were organized to increase awareness about the risk of resistance breakdown. In these workshops, the computer model was used to present several model scenarios to conventional and organic farmers. These workshops were very useful for showing farmers how the disease spreads in a landscape over time and space and for showing the effects in the long term.

After the workshop farmers agreed that resistance management is important to increase the durability of resistant varieties and that collaborative action is needed. The workshops were useful to bring farmers together and to discuss strategies in the control of late blight to reduce the impact of the disease.

In order to develop sustainable strategies it is important to consider all factors that influence late blight control such as the disease, the crop and control strategies of farmers. This research is part of the Complex Adaptive Systems program of Wageningen University where the goal is to identify these factors and to analyze how they influence each other. Potato late blight as one system brings a future without chemical control closer.
Published in Diseases
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently announced that it will be cancelling the use of the group M3 chemicals mancozeb and metiram in a wide range of crops, including field tomatoes.

In 2020 products like Manzate, Penncozeb, Dithane and Polyram will no longer be available for sale and in 2021 use will be banned completely. This will ultimately have an effect on how we control diseases, including anthracnose, early blight and, most importantly, late blight. Although mancozeb is currently an important player in fungicide programs, tomato growers do have other options available.

For best control it is always good to start with preventative or protectant fungicides once environmental conditions are conducive to disease development and before symptoms appear. | READ MORE
Published in Diseases
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of minor use label expansion registrations for Entrust and Success insecticides for control of cabbage maggot on Brassica leafy greens crop subgroup 4-13B and Brassica head and stem vegetables, crop group 5-13 in Canada.

Entrust and Success insecticides were already labeled for use on a wide variety of crops in Canada for control of several insects.

These minor use projects were submitted by Quebec as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel. | READ MORE
Published in Insects
Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently released its final decision on the future use of chlorothalonil, a fungicide used in agriculture including fruit and vegetable production.

“Under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act, the PMRA has determined that continued registration of products containing chlorothalonil is acceptable,” the report states.

“An evaluation of available scientific information found that most uses of chlorothalonil products meet current standards for protection of human health or the environment when used according to the conditions of registration, which include required amendments to label directions.”

Even so, some changes have been made to the chlorothalonil label, including cancellation of its use on greenhouse cut flowers, greenhouse pachysandra, and field grown roses (for cut flowers). As well, all chlorothalonil products currently registered as dry flowable or water dispersible granules must be packaged in water-soluble packaging. Buffer zones have also been revised and a vegetative filter strip is required.

You can review the decision and new label requirements by clicking here.
Published in Insects
Comparison of fungicide programs:

In 2016 and 2017, Cheryl Trueman compared several different cucumber downy mildew control programs in plots at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus.

Different product rotations included:
  • Bravo-only applied 6 times.
  • A high input strategy that focused on optimal control and resistance management: Orondis Ultra A+B; Torrent; Zampro; Orondis Ultra A+B; Torrent; Zampro.
  • A low-input strategy that focused on early control and resistance management, switching to lower-cost fungicides in the final weeks of harvest: Orondis Ultra A + B (plus Bravo); Torrent; Zampro; Bravo; Bravo; Bravo.
  • A single application of Orondis Ultra, applied early followed by the other targeted downy mildew fungicides (Orondis Ultra A + B; Torrent ; Zampro; Torrent; Zampro; Torrent).
  • Control – no fungicides applied.
Results indicate that the highest level of control was achieved using a high input three product rotation of Orondis Ultra A+B, Torrent and Zampro when downy mildew pressure was high in 2016.

Under these conditions final yields for both the high input and single Orondis Ultra (in rotation) were both significantly higher than the Bravo only programs and yield for the high input program were significantly higher than all other treatments.

When pressure was moderate in 2017, the high input and single Orondis Ultra in rotation program were very effective. All fungicide programs except Bravo only increased both fruit number and yield by weight.
Published in Vegetables
Engage Agro Corporation is pleased to announce the tolerance for chlormequat chloride, the active ingredient in MANIPULATOR Plant Growth Regulator, has been established for wheat in the United States.

The U.S. MRL is consistent with CODEX.

Engage Agro has worked closely with the Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA), and they have informed their members that the U.S. tolerance for Manipulator on wheat is established.

After years of very encouraging field tests, Engage Agro is excited to introduce Manipulator Plant Growth Regulator to wheat producers across Canada. This technology will help producers realize the full potential of high yielding wheat varieties while dramatically reducing lodging.

Engage Agro looks forward to working closely with Canadian wheat producers to ensure maximum benefits of Manipulator Plant Growth regulator are realized.
Published in Companies
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of a minor use label expansion registration for Prowl H2O Herbicide for control of labeled weeds on direct seeded or transplanted cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli grown on mineral soil in Canada.

Prowl Herbicide was already labeled for use on a number of crops in Canada for control of several weeds.

These minor use projects were submitted by Ontario as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel.

The following is provided as an abbreviated, general outline only. Users should be making weed management decisions within a robust integrated pest management program and should consult the complete label before using Prowl H2O Herbicide. | READ MORE
Published in Weeds
Hydro One and Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. recently announced the AgriPump Rebate Program, the first program of its kind in Ontario to offer instant rebates to customers who purchase a high-efficiency pump kit.

The program is ideal for all farming applications, including livestock, greenhouse and vineyards. Upgrading to a high-efficiency pump will improve performance and could save customers up to 40 per cent of their system's energy costs.

"This energy conservation program is focused on helping our agricultural customers manage their electricity and water usage all while saving money," said Cindy-Lynn Steele, vice president, Market Solutions, Hydro One. "As Ontario's largest electricity provider to farming customers, we are committed to offering a variety of energy solutions to help them save on electricity and invest in programs that will meet their important needs while delivering a positive return to their bottom line."

"This collaborative approach with IESO and Hydro One allowed us to be very innovative with this new program," says Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. CEO and president Brian Wilkie. "We're happy to be able to cater to the agricultural sector and provide this instant rebate program on high efficiency pump sets with advanced control technology."

"Water conservation and high energy costs are a big concern for farmers in the Niagara region and across the province," said Drew Spoelstra, director for Halton, Hamilton-Wentworth, Niagara North and Niagara South, Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "The Save on Energy Conservation Program and this type of cross-utility initiative to launch the AgriPump Rebate Program is great for agriculture."

To be eligible for a rebate under the program, each kit must be between 0.5 hp and 10 hp and must comprise of a pump, motor, variable frequency drive and accessories. Customers can receive up to $610 per constant pressure pump kit. The pumps are quick and easy to install and guard against wear and tear.

The AgriPump Rebate Program is only available to agriculture customers in Hydro One and Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. (NPEI) service territories. The instant rebate is fulfilled at the point of purchase.

To learn more and participate in the AgriPump Rebate program, visit: www.agripump.ca
Contact: 1-844-403-3937 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Published in Irrigating
January 22, 2018, Edmonton, Alta – There are a number of pests that affect potatoes in Alberta every year, to varying levels of severity, depending on the year, the type and market of potatoes, as well as the location.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, in partnership with the Potato Growers of Alberta, has organized a series of workshops for fresh/table, seed and processing potato growers in Alberta. Participants will receive information on a number of pests (insects, diseases, weeds) and their impact, identification and management in various types of potatoes. Expert speakers have been brought in (live or pre-recorded) from across North America.

Producers may attend one of two workshops in Sherwood Park (March 6) or Lethbridge (March 8). A maximum of two attendees from each farm operation may attend. The cost to attend these workshops is $15 per person (plus GST), which includes lunch and resource materials for each farm operation.

Participants are asked to register in advance by calling the Ag-Info Centre Registration line at 1-800-387-6030 prior to February 27, 2018 to assist with planning, or register on-line.
Published in Vegetables
December 12, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Syngenta Canada Inc. recently announced that Orondis Ultra fungicide is now available in a premix formulation.

Orondis Ultra combines mandipropamid (FRAC Group 40) with oxathiapiprolin (FRAC Group 49) to provide protection against late blight (Phytophthora infestans).

Orondis Ultra works through translaminar and acropetal activity, moving across the leaf surface as well as upwards into new growth via the plant’s xylem, or water-conducting vessels. Both modes of action protect the plant during periods of active growth.

Previously, a case of Orondis Ultra contained two components – Orondis Ultra A and Orondis Ultra B – that required individual measuring and tank mixing.

Now, the new premix formulation has a single product label, meaning the components no longer require mixing prior to use, and will be available in a 4 x 3.78 L case.

“Weather conditions in-season can create the conditions needed for late blight to develop and thrive,” explains Eric Phillips, product lead for fungicides and insecticides with Syngenta Canada. “The new Orondis Ultra premix formulation helps make proactive late blight management more convenient for growers.”

Orondis Ultra is also registered for aerial application in potatoes.

In addition to potatoes, Orondis Ultra can be used on head and stem brassica vegetables, including broccoli and cabbage, bulb vegetables, such as onion and garlic, leafy vegetables, such as arugula and celery, and cucurbit vegetables, including cucumber and squash. See the Orondis UItra label for a complete list of crops and diseases.

Orondis Ultra will be available for purchase as a premix formulation for the 2018 season.

For more information about Orondis Ultra, visit Syngenta.ca, contact your local Syngenta representative or call 877-964-3682.
Published in Diseases
December 11, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Bayer recently announced the launch of Sencor STZ, a new herbicide for broad-spectrum control of all major annual grass and broadleaf weeds in potatoes.

Sencor STZ combines Sencor with a new Group 14 mode of action, providing Canadian potato growers a new weed control option for their field. As a pre-emergent herbicide, Sencor STZ has uptake through the roots and shoots of weeds, providing early season weed control during critical crop stages. The product works on emerged weeds and provides residual broad-spectrum control to weeds yet to germinate. It will be provided in a co-pak.

“As the first innovation in the potato herbicide space in many years, Sencor STZ offers an exciting new tool for Canadian potato growers to combat a wide spectrum of weeds and maximize crop yield,” says Jon Weinmaster, crop and campaign marketing manager for horticulture and corn at Bayer.

Sencor is a proven performer that delivers reliable broad-spectrum weed control to Canadian potato growers. Trials utilizing Sencor STZ have demonstrated efficacy against Group 2- and 7-resistant biotypes, while providing essential control of Group 5-resistant broadleaf weeds, demonstrating the added benefit of the product’s Group 14 herbicide.

“Given the increasing occurrence of herbicide resistance and a potentially shrinking number of solutions available for combatting tough-to-control weeds, Sencor STZ presents a welcome opportunity for growers to ensure they have the crop protection they need,” says Weinmaster. “This new herbicide affirms Bayer’s position as a leader in potato solutions and our commitment to growing and furthering innovation within horticulture.”

Sencor STZ will be available to potato growers in Eastern Canada and British Columbia for the 2018 season. Sencor STZ comprises Group 5 (metribuzin) and Group 14 (sulfentrazone) herbicides.

For more information regarding Sencor STZ, growers are encouraged to talk to their local retailer or visit cropscience.bayer.ca/SencorSTZ.
Published in Weeds
October 10, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Vive Crop Protection recently announced that company CEO, Keith Thomas, has been elected to CropLife America’s board of directors for a three-year term.

“I am excited to contribute to CropLife America’s mission supporting modern agriculture,” said Thomas. “We are relatively new to the U.S. crop protection industry, but we’ve had a big impact. Our election to the CropLife America board recognizes our commitment to the industry. We plan to be here for the long-term.”

“We look forward to the business experience and academic perspective Keith brings to the CLA board,” said Jay Vroom, CropLife America’s CEO. “These qualities, combined with his interest in the role the industry plays in sustainability aligned with our technology innovation, makes him a great addition to the main governance body of CropLife.”

“Innovation is incredibly important to farmers today,” he added. “Using new technologies we can improve sustainability, productivity, and crop quality. As an innovative, technology-based company, we are proud to be part of this industry.”

Thomas is also a governor of the University of Toronto and is the chair of its Business Board.
Published in Companies
August 11, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Vive Crop Protection recently announced a new partnership with four biopesticide manufacturers to develop new and improved biopesticides, supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

Biopesticides are the fastest growing crop protection segment, but have suffered from limited effectiveness in field situations, shorter product life, poor compatibility with conventional pesticides, and limited combination products. Vive has recently demonstrated that the Allosperse Delivery System enhances the viability and performance of biopesticides.

“This project extends the scope of the Allosperse Delivery System and means that we can provide a complete solution to growers, whether they need a conventional, biological, or combination crop protection product,” said Keith Thomas, CEO of Vive. “We’re excited about the potential for these products and thank SDTC for the support.”

Over the next three years, Vive will work with the partner manufacturers to develop new and improved versions of their products. This work will be supported by SDTC.

Vive Crop Protection is developing environmentally-friendly pesticides made from organic matter,” said Leah Lawrence, president and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada. “This Canadian-made technology represents an advancement in biopesticides that will deliver real economic and environmental benefits across Canada and around the world.”
Published in Companies
July 27, 2017, Waterloo, Ont. - A biotechnology company that created a spray that helps farmers and growers protect crops from frost damage was among the big winners at the Velocity Fund Finals held recently at the University of Waterloo. Velocity is a comprehensive entrepreneurship program at Waterloo.

Innovative Protein Technologies created Frost Armour, a spray-on-foam, after witnessing the effects of a devastating spring frost in 2012 that knocked out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop. Farmers would remove it after several days with another solution that converts it into a fertilizer.

"Frost damage not only affects farmers’ livelihoods, but also our food supply," said Erin Laidley, a Waterloo alumnus, who co-founded the company with Tom Keeling and Dan Krska, two alumni from the University of Guelph. "There are other spray-on solutions, but ours is non-toxic and has no negative environmental impact.”

During the competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges considered innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch.

The following three companies were also grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at Velocity. Three of the five top-prize-winning companies are based at Velocity Science.
  • Altius Analytics Labs is a health-tech startup that helps occupational groups better manage musculoskeletal injuries.
  • EPOCH is a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members, using time as a means of exchange.
  • VivaSpire is making lightweight wearable machines that purify oxygen from the air without the need for high pressure.
For the first time, the prize of $10,000 for best hardware or science company went to a team that was not among the grand-prize winners. Vena Medical is making navigating through arteries faster, easier and safer by providing physicians with a camera that sees through blood.

During the VFF event, an additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three prizes of $5,000 and access to Velocity workspaces.

The winners of the Velocity $5K are:
  • HALo works to provide manual wheelchair users with accessible solutions to motorize their wheelchairs.
  • QuantWave provides faster, cheaper and simpler pathogen detection for drinking water and food suppliers.
  • SheLeads is a story-based game that helps girls realize their unlimited leadership potential.
“Building a business is one of the boldest risks you can take, and yet our companies continue to demonstrate the vision, talent, and drive to think big and tackle challenging problems,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity. “Today we are fortunate to benefit from an enormous wealth of experience from our judges who are leaders from the global investment, health and artificial-intelligence communities and entrepreneurs at heart. In helping Velocity award $125,000 in funding to these companies, we have taken a bet of our own in these founders, and said be bold, think big, and go out and change the world.”

The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition travelled from Palo Alto, San Francisco and Toronto. They were Seth Bannon, founding partner, Fifty Years; Dianne Carmichael, chief advisor of health tech, Council of Canadian Innovators; Eric Migicovsky, visiting partner, Y Combinator; Tomi Poutanen, co-CEO, Layer 6 AI.

The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Kane Hsieh, investor, Root Ventures; Tobiasz Dankiewicz, co-founder, Reebee; Karen Webb, principal, KWebb Solutions Inc.

For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit www.velocityfundfinals.com
Published in Spraying
July 26, 2017, Ontario - Stemphylium leaf blight (Stemphylium vesicarium) of onion starts as yellow-tan, water-soaked lesions developing into elongated spots. As these spots cover the entire leaves, onions prematurely defoliate thereby reducing the yield and causing the crop to be more susceptible to other pathogens.

Stemphylium was first identified in Ontario in 2008 and has since spread throughout the Holland Marsh and other onion growing areas in southwestern Ontario.

Stemphylium leaf blight can sometimes be misdiagnosed as purple blotch (Alternaria porri), as they both have very similar symptoms initially. Purple blotch has sunken tan to white lesions with purple centers while Stemphylium tends to have tan lesions without the purple centers.

Stemphylium spores are dispersed by wind. Spore sampling at the Muck Crops Research Station using a Burkard seven-day spore sampler detected an average of 33 spores/m3 in 2015 and seven spores/m3 in 2016.

In ideal conditions, leaf spot symptoms occur six days after initial infection. Stemphylium tends to infect dead tissue or wounds, often as a result of herbicide damage, insect feeding or from extreme weather.

Older onion leaves are more susceptible to infection than younger leaves and symptoms are traditionally observed after the plants have reached the three- to four-leaf stage.

Over the last few years, Botrytis leaf blight (Botrytis squamosa) has become less of an issue and has been overtaken by Stemphylium as the most important onion disease — other than maybe downy mildew.

This may be because the fungicides used to target Stemphylium are likely managing Botrytis as well. Since Stemphylium can be so devastating and hard to control, fungicides are now being applied earlier in the season which may be preventing Botrytis to become established.

Botrytis squamosa overwinters as sclerotia in the soil and on crop debris left from the previous year and infects onions in mid-June when temperatures and leaf wetness are favourable for infection. In the Holland Marsh, Stemphylium lesions were first observed on June 29, 2015 and July 7, 2016.

The primary method of management is through foliar fungicides such as Luna Tranquility, Quadris Top and Sercadis. Keep in mind that Sercadis and Luna Tranquility both contain a group 7 fungicide so remember to rotate and do not make sequential applications.

The effectiveness of these fungicides in the future depends on the spray programs you choose today. There are already Stemphylium isolates insensitive to several fungicides in New York so resistance is a real and very serious issue with this disease.

Remember to rotate fungicide groups with different modes of actions to reduce the possibility of resistance. A protective fungicide is best applied when the onion crop has reached the three-leaf stage, however it may not be necessary in dry years.

Research is currently being conducted at the Muck Crops Research Station to improve forecasting models to identify the optimal timing for commercial growers to achieve good control.

BOTCAST disease forecasting model is available in some areas of Ontario to help growers predict the activity of the disease. Warm, wet weather between 18-26°C is most favourable for disease development. Regular field scouting is still the best method to assess disease levels.

Plant spacing that permits better air movement and irrigation schedules that do not extend leaf wetness periods may be helpful in some areas. Recent work at the Muck Crops Research Station has shown that spores increase two to 72 hours after rainfall with eight hours of leaf wetness to be optimal for the pathogen. Irrigate overnight if possible so by morning the leaves can dry out and you don’t prolong that leaf wetness period.

To lower inoculum levels it is crucial to remove or bury cull piles and to bury leaf debris left from the previous year’s crop through deep cultivation. Stemphylium of onion has many hosts including leeks, garlic, asparagus and even European pear.

Take the time to rogue out volunteer onions or other Allium species in other crops nearby and remove unnecessary asparagus or pear trees to lower inoculum levels. As with any other foliar disease of onion, it is beneficial to rotate with non-host crops for three years.

To prevent the development of resistance, it is essential to always rotate between different fungicide groups and/or tank mix with a broad spectrum insecticide. Current products registered for Stemphylium leaf blight of onion are listed by fungicide group below:

Group 7 - Sercadis

Group 7/9 - Luna Tranquility

Group 11/3 - Quadris Top
Published in Diseases
July 25, 2017, Ontario - The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of URMULE registrations for Confine Extra fungicide (mono and di-potassium salts of phosphorus acid 53%) for the suppression of bacterial leaf spot (Xanthomonas campestris p.v. vitians) on leaf lettuce in Canada.

Where possible, rotate the use of Confine Extra (Group 33) with fungicides that have different modes of actions. Apply at a rate of 7 L/ha in a minimum of 100 L of water/hectare. Use a maximum of 6 foliar applications per growing season. Pre-harvest Interval (PHI) is 1 day.

Confine Extra is currently registered for downy mildew of lettuce, endive, radicchio as well as most brassica crops.

Follow all other precautions and directions for use on the Confine Extra label carefully.

For a copy of the new minor use label visit the PMRA label site: http://pr-rp.hc-sc.gc.ca/ls-re/index-eng.php
Published in Diseases
The tip-and-pour method, as well as poorly designed pumps, can expose workers to injury and companies to significant financial losses.

Every day, handlers and applicators transfer potentially hazardous chemicals and concentrates such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and liquid fertilizers from large drums into smaller containers or mixing tanks. This transfer process can have serious consequences if manual “tip-and-pour” techniques or poorly designed pumps are used.

Whether the chemicals are toxic, corrosive, or flammable, the danger of accidental contact can pose a severe hazard to workers.

In fact, each year 1,800 to 3,000 preventable occupational incidents involving pesticide exposure are reported in the U.S. A closed system of transferring chemicals reduces unnecessary exposures by providing controlled delivery of chemical products without fear of worker exposure, over-pouring, spilling, or releasing vapours.

“When handling pesticides, toxicity and corrosiveness are the main dangers, but even organic pesticides can be harmful if there is exposure,” says Kerry Richards, Ph.D., president elect of the American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators and former director of Penn State’s Pesticide Safety Education Program. “No matter what their toxicity level, all chemicals, even those that are organic are a particular contact exposure risk if they are corrosive.”

In addition to the potential for injury, there can also be serious financial ramifications for the grower or ag product manufacturing facility if pesticides or liquid chemicals spill.

“Beyond workers compensation issues related to exposure, there can be other huge potential liabilities,” Richards says. “This is particularly true if a pesticide gets into a water source, kills fish, or contaminates drinking water.”

Richards, who works with the National Pesticide Safety Education Center, has seen and heard many examples of worker and environmental exposure from pesticides during more than 30 years of pesticide safety education experience.

“Exposure risk is highest for those loading chemicals into mix tanks because it is more concentrated and hazardous before diluted with water,” she says. “Any time you lose containment of the chemical, such as a spill, the risks can be serious and spiral out of control.”

Corrosive chemicals, for example, can severely burn skin or eyes, and many chemical pesticides are toxic when touched or inhaled.

“Some organic herbicides are so highly acidic that they essentially burn the waxy cuticle off the above ground parts of plants, killing them,” says Richards. “If you splash it in your eye or on your skin, it can burn in the same way and cause significant damage.”

Some chemicals are flammable as well, and if not properly handled and contained, can be ignited by sparking from nearby motors or mechanical equipment. The danger of a fire spreading can be serious both in the field and at ag product manufacturing facilities.

In addition to the cost of cleanup or treating injuries, substantial indirect costs can also be incurred. These include supervisors’ time to document the incident and respond to any added government inspection or scrutiny, as well as the potential for slowed grower production or even a temporary shutdown at ag manufacturing plants.

“The direct and indirect costs of a pesticide spill or injury can be substantial, not the least of which is the loss of wasted chemicals,” says Richards. “Pesticides, particularly newer concentrated formulations, are very expensive so spilling a few ounces could cost you several hundred dollars in lost product during a single transfer.”

Traditional practices of transferring liquid chemicals suffer from a number of drawbacks.

Manual techniques, such as the tip-and-pour method, are still common today. Tipping heavy barrels or even 2.5-gallon containers, however, can lead to a loss of control and over pouring.

“When manually transferring chemicals from bulk containers, it is very difficult to control heavy drums,” cautions Richards. “I’d advise against it because of the significantly increased risk of exposure or a spill, and the added potential of a back injury or muscle strain.”

Although a number of pump types exist for chemical transfer (rotary, siphon, lever-action, piston and electric), most are not engineered as a sealed, contained system. In addition, these pumps can have seals that leak, are known to wear out quickly, and can be difficult to operate, making precise volume control and dispensing difficult.

In contrast, closed systems can dramatically improve the safety and efficiency of chemical transfer. California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, in fact, requires a closed system for mixing and loading for certain pesticides so handlers are not directly exposed to the pesticide.

“The availability of new technology that creates a closed or sealed system is ideal for handling pesticides or other dangerous chemicals, and should become a best management practice,” suggests Richards. “With such devices ... pesticide handlers can maintain a controlled containment from one vessel to another and significantly reduce any potential for exposure or spill.”

A sealed system delivers liquids to an intermediate measuring device and is useful for low toxicity liquids. A closed system moves the material from point A to point B through hoses using dry-break fittings on the connection points. This prevents leaking and exposure to the handler which helps guarantee safety. Liquids are transferred from the source container, into the measuring system, and then to the mix tank.

Small, versatile, hand-operated pressure pumps are engineered to work as a system, which can be either closed or sealed. The pumps can be used for the safe transfer of more than 1,400 industrial chemicals, including the most aggressive pesticides.

These pumps function essentially like a beer tap. The operator attaches the pump, presses the plunger several times to build up a low amount of internal pressure, and then dispenses the liquid. The device is configured to provide precise control over the fluid delivery, from slow (1ML/ 1 oz.) up to 4.5-gallons per minute, depending on viscosity.

Because such pumps use very low pressure (<6 PSI) to transfer fluids through the line and contain automatic pressure relief valves, they are safe to use with virtually any container from 2-gallon jugs to 55-gallon drums.

When Jon DiPiero managed Ricci Vineyards, a small wine grape vineyard in Sonoma, Calif., he sought a safer, more efficient way to transfer pesticides for mixing and spraying that complied with the state’s closed system requirement for certain pesticides.

“We had to fill 2.5-gallon containers from a 55-gallon drum,” says DiPiero. “Traditional tipping and pouring from a drum wasn’t going to work due to the potential for spills, splashes, over pouring and chemical exposure, as well as the state mandate for a closed system for some pesticides.”

DiPiero turned to GoatThroat Pumps and was happy with the results for a number of reasons.

“Because the pump is closed, sealed, and allows containers to remain in an upright position, it complied with state regulation and virtually eliminated the potential for all forms of chemical exposure,” DiPiero says.

He adds the air pressure supplied by the hand pump allows the precise flow required into a measuring cylinder.

In case of overfill, “the operator can open a valve to release air pressure and the pesticide will backflow into the tank with no cross contamination,” DiPiero says. “This gave us the exact amount we needed so there was no waste.”

According to DiPiero, a multi-directional spray attachment also enables rinsing of every corner of the container without having to pour into it and shake it. He says this helps to minimize exposure when cleaning a container for reuse and satisfies California “triple rinsing” requirements.

“Whether for pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or liquid fertilizers, a closed and sealed pump design could help with the safe production or mixing of any liquid chemical,” says DiPiero.

When Lancaster Farms, a wholesale container plant nursery serving the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, required a lower pH to adjust its well water for a pesticide spray application, it had to transfer sulfuric acid to buffer the spray water.

According to Shawn Jones, Lancaster Farms’ propagation and research manager, the nursery chose to purchase 55-gallon drums of sulfuric acid to raise chemical pH. The drums of chemicals were much more cost effective than multiple 2.5-gallon containers and much easier to recycle. However, Jones was wary of the danger that tipping and pouring acid from the drums would pose, along with pouring bleach and another strong disinfectants for different uses in the propagation area.

“We use 40 percent sulfuric acid to buffer our spray water,” Jones says. “Our irrigation water is all recycled from ponds, with the drum storage areas relatively close to our water source, so we wanted to avoid any possibility of accidental spillage.”

Previously, the nursery had used siphon pumps to transfer the acid, bleach, and disinfectant, but Jones was dissatisfied with this approach.

“None of our siphon pumps lasted more than six months before we had to replace them, and none allowed metering with the kind of precision we required,” he says.

Instead, Jones chose to implement several closed, sealed GoatThroat Pumps, along with graduated cylinders for precise measurement.

“With the pumps, the drums always remain in an upright position so they won’t tip over accidentally,” Jones says.

The one-touch flow control dispenses liquids at a controlled rate.

“We get precise measurement into our mix tanks. We use every drop, spill nothing, and waste nothing.”

In terms of longevity, Jones’ first sealed pump has already lasted six years and outlasted a dozen previous siphon pumps.

“Our GoatThroat Pumps paid for themselves in safety and savings our first growing season, and should last a decade or more with just routine maintenance or repair,” Jones concludes. “Any grower, farmer, or nursery that needs to move or measure dangerous liquids safely and reliably should consider one.”

Agricultural chemicals are very expensive, and growers are always looking for ways to decrease the cost of inputs to help increase profits. Sealed systems and closed systems allow for accurate and precise measuring of chemicals, which ensures that you’re using only the amount of product required and not one extra drop.

Taking the guesswork out of measuring costly materials, and providing an efficient means of transferring custom blended or dilute products from original containers to mix tanks or back pack sprayers cuts input costs. This keeps expenses to a minimum, with the important bonus of increasing the safety of handlers by reducing the potential exposure to the chemical, which helps increase the bottom line and can assist with regulatory compliance.
Published in Chemicals
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