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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Pesticide Application Technologies for Spray-drift Management, Maximizing In-field Deposition, and Targeted Spraying

Location: Crop Production Systems Research Unit

Title: Research for Environmental Stewardship and Conservation at the APTRU

Authors
item Thomson, Steven
item Huang, Yanbo
item Sassenrath, Gretchen
item Hanks, James
item Fisher, Daniel
item Lyn, Margaret

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: April 22, 2009
Publication Date: April 22, 2009
Citation: Thomson, S.J., Huang, Y., Sassenrath, G.F., Hanks, J.E., Fisher, D.K., Lyn, M.E. 2009. Research for Environmental Stewardship and Conservation at the APTRU. Earth Day Symposium, Charles W. Capps Entreprenecuial Center, DREC, Mississippi State University, Stoneville, MS. April 22, 2009.

Interpretive Summary: Research for environmental stewardship is being conducted in the USDA ARS Application and Production Technology Research Unit (APTRU), Stoneville, MS. Research methods for mitigation of off-target spray drift, remote sensing for precision crop management, and irrigation and tillage methods for improved management and conservation are presented. Mitigation of off-target drift can be assisted by knowing when to spray. Sophisticated weather apparatus for determining weather conditions unfavorable for spraying have been developed to determine times of the day where there is a high probability of temperature inversions. Pilots should avoid spraying during inversion periods as spray can drift for long distances. Research on drift mitigation also includes evaluation of new spray nozzles for their ability to mitigate drift, evaluation of spray mixtures and their interactions with nozzle types and spray angles, and measurement of spray application height and its effect on off-target drift. Remote sensing for precision crop management is an important component of precision agriculture. Images obtained of a crop field specify areas to apply fertilizer, pesticide, or harvesting aids. Then, a variable-rate spraying system can apply these field inputs only to parts of the field that require them, based on these images and positioning information from Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Researchers at the APTRU are evaluating conservation tillage systems in terms of environmental stewardship, economic benefit for the farmer, and benefits to the crop and soil. In conservation tillage, crops are grown with minimal cultivation of the soil. When the amount of tillage is reduced, the stubble or plant residues are not completely incorporated, and most or all remain on top of the soil rather than being incorporated. Conservation tillage is beneficial for protecting highly erodible soils. Irrigation scheduling methods are being investigated that promote water conservation by determining when and how much to apply and supplying only what the crop requires. Methods include irrigation scheduling models, use of soil water sensors placed in the soil, and use of user-friendly evaporation pans to better schedule irrigations. Environmental stewardship is a central component of research being conducted at the USDA, ARS, APTRU.

Technical Abstract: Research methods for mitigation of off-target spray drift, remote sensing for precision crop management, and irrigation and tillage methods are presented. Research for mitigation of off target spray drift includes development of sophisticated weather apparatus to determine weather conditions unfavorable for spraying, evaluation of new spray nozzles for their ability to mitigate drift, evaluation of spray mixtures and their interactions with nozzle types, and the effect of spray application height on off-target drift. Remote sensing for precision crop management is an important component of precision agriculture. Images obtained of a crop field specify areas to apply fertilizer, pesticide, or harvesting aids. Then, a variable-rate spraying system can apply these field inputs only to parts of the field that require them based on these images and location information from Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Researchers at the USDA, ARS, APTRU are evaluating conservation tillage systems in terms of environmental stewardship, economic benefit for the farmer, and benefits to the crop and soil. In conservation tillage, crops are grown with minimal cultivation of the soil. When the amount of tillage is reduced, the stubble or plant residues are not completely incorporated, and most or all remain on top of the soil rather than being incorporated. Conservation tillage is beneficial for protecting highly erodible soils. Growers and researchers are working on less herbicide-dependent modifications of conservation tillage practices and help provide better economic benefits for the farmer. Methods described as no-till, minimum till, incomplete tillage, reduced tillage, or conservation tillage differ from each other mainly in the degree to which the soil is disturbed prior to planting. Irrigation scheduling methods are being investigated that promote conservation applied water by determining when and how much to apply only what the crop requires. Irrigation scheduling models, soil water sensors placed in the soil, and user-friendly evaporation pans are being developed to better schedule irrigation for improved management and water conservation.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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