In addition to the patternator, Clements says he uses a bench-quality pressure tester and a flow meter to measure nozzle output.
Both the pressure tester and the flow meter produce quantitative data whereas the patternator results are more qualitative, he says.
If a nozzle is rated at so many gallons per minute and isn’t meeting that rating, the results are numeric. The nozzle may be worn and is putting out more than the rating or may be clogged and putting out less.
The results of a patternator are more open for interpretation, Clements says.
Although he’s in the first year of his grant and has only conducted a handful of field days, Clements says growers seem more interested in the flow meters than the patternator.
“With the flow measurements, if a nozzle is clogged, you get a very quantitative response,” he says. “There’s more interest in that than in the patternator. With the patternator, there’s no real right or wrong.”
Regardless, he says the demonstrations have raised interest in drift reduction and prevention.
“After you get done doing it with growers, I think they have a much better comprehension about how to do it,” Clements says. “If nothing else, just raising the awareness in both New York and here in Massachusetts, and I did that field day up in New Hampshire. Just exposing growers to it will be helpful.”
Doing a better job
Clements also has enlisted Mo Tougas, owner of Tougas Family Farm in Northborough, Mass., as a grower mentor for the project.
Tougas, who has about 90 acres in fruit, put his sprayer to the test years ago and has continued to make upgrades since then.
He’s added a TeeJet computerized rate controller that adjusts the spray flow as the driver speeds up or slows down.
Tougas also has installed hydraulically powered fans on his spray tower so he can better control the amount of air flow. In addition, he has changed the angle of the fans, pointing them downward so they hit more of the canopy and don’t spray into the atmosphere.
The impetus behind the retrofits has been partly financial and partly environmental, Tougas says.
“The materials we’re using today are much more expensive than they ever have been in the past and much more specific to the targets,” he says. “It used to be the materials were really broad spectrum. We just need to be able to do a better job with the application techniques.”