Treatments in organic agriculture and use of the mist blower
Michela Lugli

Subject of increasing attention, the system of organic management of crops, embodies the trend to ever greater choice of products used for defense, capable of ensuring a low environmental impact.

This is partly due to a growing awareness of the consumer and the producer himself to ecological issues, but the main thrust, comes from the EU directives and regulations that go in this direction.

From machinery Directive to Pan

The Machinery Directive 127 of 2009 implemented in Italy by Legislative Decree 124 of 2012, is an example. It defines the design and construction requirements which agricultural machinery and equipment must comply.

The Directive, in the treatments with plant protection products, find a sense in the evidence that sprayers – understood in the broadest sense of the class they represent – not functioning properly and not properly calibrated, can disperse up to 80 percent of the product distributed, with heavy environmental consequences and repercussions on the cheapness and the effectiveness of the intervention.

Alongside the ‘Machinery Directive’, the Framework Directive 128 of 2009 on the sustainable use of agrochemicals, transposed by Legislative Decree 150 of 2012 that from 2014, draws for all Italian farms a new agriculture declined in three systems: mandatory integrated defense , biological and voluntary integrated defense.

With reference to professional equipment used to distribute plant protection products, generally defined sprayers but which include among others dusters and mist-blowers, the directive oriented at reducing drift and the correct handling of waste products from treatment, forces companies to periodically check the functionality of the equipment to be completed by 2016.

It gives full national effect to the Community Directive 128, the Pan or National Action Plan, technical document of implementation of the rule, adopted by the Decree of 22 January 2014. Presented in four different actions aimed at environmental sustainability in the use of plant protection products, the plan relates directly or indirectly to the management of the ‘sprayers’ machines.

What changes

What was already required in organic agriculture and integrated defense, the setting or functional check of the equipment, it becomes mandatory practice for all companies.

With the distinction between professional users and non , for the former are introduced specific requirements, even formative, while for the latter there is a limitation in the use of active ingredients and formulations that in a decree being finalized, will be identified as’ for use unprofessional’. In the first case, it is also new the introduction of consultants alongside farmers for the proper use of pesticides both in integrated agriculture than for the biological method. Pan, providing as a basic principle the priority recourse to a crop protection with biological control systems and biological monitoring of adversity, tends to increase this production system that in Italy affects 1 million acres and fifty thousand companies.

Biological defense

Organic agriculture does not require the use of products of chemical synthesis and is based on the principles of preventive action. Only in the case of risk for the cultivation,  is allowed the use of plant protection products, provided that the active substance is included in Annex II of EC Regulation 889 of 2008 and the plant protection product or the adjuvant of plant protection products, are authorized in Italy by the Ministry of Health after being subjected to an evaluation and authorization at the European level. It’s available on the website of FederBio, the Federation of Italian organic and biodynamic agriculture, the list of products allowed by the biological; document that the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policy in the Pan agrees to keep updated on its portal.

The role of the mist blower

Being for most active products for ‘contact’ on the plant or on the parasite and by ingestion, therefore substances of coverage that are not translocated within the plant – outside of Neem, other products can not be considered at endotherapic action as you can tell of ‘traditional’ systemic – pyrethrum, rotenone, but also the copper and sulfur and other ingredients allowed, act properly if well distributed.

To be reported talking about copper, widely used today in its five forms hydroxide, oxychloride, oxide, neutralized sulfate and sulfate tribasic, is the will contained in the Pan to develop the use of biologically active natural products alternative to it.

Returning to the importance that the products are conveyed with appropriate means and capable of ensuring efficient and uniform coverage, given the frequent use of liquid formulations, mist blowers are perfect for this use and are very diffused.

The product in the mechanical pulverization, reaches pressure in the nozzle and from here is dispensed through the orifice that, regardless of the form, must be properly calibrated in function of the formulation, the type of crop, the inter-row distance and the type of farming. Among the possible voluntary certification to ensure the compliance of the machine choosen for treatment, we report the Enama certification – the National Institution for agricultural mechanization,  of which the Cifarelli M1200 mist blower, which attests the compliance to safety requirements contained in the Regulations of security of said institution.

This certification also attest, in terms of operating results in relation to the M1200 model, the generation of a droplets population with an average diameter of 100 microns classified as ‘fine’, regardless of the nozzles used, for optimum results in terms of coverage, uniformity of distribution and, with a correct use, drift reduction.

In fact, it should be considered that in many cases we are using coarse powders that do not translocate in the plant, so they are more prone to water washout, and they have very different characteristics from most synthetic products.

In mist blower at mechanical pulverization, the liquid under pressure at the nozzle it is shattered into particles ranging in size from 300 to 100 microns and then transported by the action of an axial fan on the crops.

To give an idea, a degree of pulverization between 100 and 200 microns is ideal for the treatment of fungal infestations and insects; a poverizzazione average, from 200 to 400 microns, is suitable to the treatment of the herbicide and insects, while larger, are used for the distribution of liquid fertilizers.

On the water volume, there is no real scientific indications; in the case of high-volume, increases the number formulates that can be used and you get more coverage in the treetops with greater penetration into dense foliage; by contrast, is greater the time required for distribution of the product and increases the weight on the operator.

In contrast, a low volume, offers the possibility to use a lower dose of the product thanks to the better pulverization but reduces the uniformity of coverage in the higher portions of the plant with increased share evaporated in case of high temperatures and decrease the spectrum of formulated usable.

In summary, much of the success that we obtain from the treatment depends not so much on the amount of formulated, that must be of course chosen with knowledge of the facts, but the mode of distribution.

In this sense, must also be considered factors such as the appropriate timing of use of the products, the type of crop and the planting layout that because of the characteristics of organic products, should allow a complete coverage of the crop.

Michela Lugli

About Michela Lugli

Journalist - Giornalista
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