Tunnel sprayer helps reduce drift in orchards

06/20/2011 04:15:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

The main driver in the university trials has taken it up to about 3.5 mph.

Although the UMass trials are being conducted on flat ground, Autio says the sprayer has hydraulics that allow you to change the angle dramatically for hillside applications.

The sprayer costs about $52,000.

At this point, Autio says he doesn't know whether the chemical savings alone would offset the higher price.

But where he sees a fit for the machine is in urban settings, where houses abut orchards.

"It would be a benefit where drift is an issue, where you need to reduce your drift into the environment near housing," he says. "In Massachusetts there are a lot of orchards right next to housing. If you contain the drift in these situations, it could very well make the difference of staying in business or not staying in business."

Autio will continue to update growers on the trial's progress through his blog, http://masscon.blogspot.com.

View the sprayer in action on YouTube.

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