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Researchers at the College of Kecskemet in Hungary conducting work to support safer pesticide application are using the Spraytec droplet size analyser from Malvern Instruments.

Given the current high level of concern about the environmental and health risks associated with agrochemical spray use, work at the college is providing important information to help ensure the correct and controlled delivery of pesticides and other compounds.

Researchers are examining how the output of spray nozzles changes during use.

Their aim is to determine whether or not the nozzles continue delivering droplets in the size ranges that give the greatest efficacy with the least adverse effect.

The Spraytec droplet size analyser is designed to provide the rapid, high-resolution measurements of wide spray plumes, enabling the measurement of droplet size distributions in real time during spraying.

Prof Istvan Sztacho-Pekary of the Machinery Department at the College of Kecskemet said: ‘It is normal for farmers to use spray nozzles a number of times before replacing them.

‘By monitoring output over time, we are developing a greater understanding of the impact of nozzle wear, enabling us to balance nozzle performance with the economics of renewal.

‘This helps avoid the cost of premature replacement while also encouraging good practice in ensuring that droplet size specifications are met.’ Droplet size is said to be a critical parameter as it plays a significant role in predicting spray drift, run-off and uptake by different target species.

In using the Spraytec system, the team in Hungary has the ability to measure sprays with droplets ranging from 0.1 to 2,000 microns at data acquisition rates of up to 10kHz.

This provides rapid, in-situ data acquisition in real time during spraying.

Sztacho-Pekary added: ‘The Spraytec provides us with significant insight into spray behaviour.

‘The data it generates support both the theoretical achievements on spray atomisation and laboratory tests on droplet size distributions across the fan patterns of new and worn nozzle tips.’ The efficient application of agrochemical sprays to minimise any adverse impact on the environment and on human and animal health is a major global concern, as reflected in the European Parliament’s ruling on pesticide safety in January 2009.

Being able to closely monitor the effectiveness of application systems in real time, and in particular to gauge more closely the exact timing for nozzle replacement, is likely to encourage equipment maintenance practices that result in correct application.

Malvern Instruments

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