Action 5 aimed at the management of spray drift resulting from the application of pesticides, through the study of factors that affect spray drift, followed by the development of a strategy to minimize the contamination caused by spray drift. The goal and the deliverable of this Action were the compilation of a protocol for the Strategy of Spray Drift Management.
According to this Protocol, the parameters affecting spray drift that can be regulated or monitored are as follows:
- The type of nozzles used, namely, whether of conventional or of low-drift type
- The physicochemical properties of the pesticide being used, in combination with the adjuvant, as an additive to reduce spray drift
- The physical condition of the spraying machinery/equipment, its level of maintenance and proper operation
- The distance between the spraying boom and the crop
- The volume of application (spraying volume)
- Wind intensity (velocity) and direction during spraying
- Temperature and relative humidity during spraying
- The presence (or otherwise) of buffer zones
This protocol formed the basis for the production of an instructional leaflet on the correct methods of spraying. This leaflet was distributed to the farmers and agronomists in the pilot area.
Furthermore, as part of Action 5, field experiments were conducted for measuring spray drift. Those experiments revealed the crucial importance of keeping spraying equipment in good condition and using low-drift nozzles in order to achieve the desired results. Specifically, when using the Teejet 11002 low-drift nozzles, spray drift was reduced by levels of up to 100% at distances of 2 m and beyond. This reduction was clearly visible to the farmers who watched these field experiments. Low-drift nozzles were placed on the sprayers under the terms of the Project’s repair expenses.
However, in order to apply this strategy on a broader scale and outside the EcoPest pilot area, it would be necessary to train the farmers in the specific principles of spraying, to incentivize them to replace the spraying nozzles, and to preserve buffer zones of 5 m from water bodies.
The results from the measurements taken with low-drift nozzles were included in the data which were communicated to the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food, so as systematic recommendations to farmers on spraying principles to be established.
Furthermore, the prediction model FOOT-FS was applied, using an example with real data (case study) of the 10 pilot monitored fields in the EcoPest area. The model’s results confirmed the conclusions of the field experiments. It is clear from the above that Action 5 was been successfully fulfilled and decisively contributed to the achievement of the Project goals. Its results were in accordance with the expected results of the approved Project proposal.