By Jon Zuk
As an agronomist, I usually don’t get called out to a farm if everything is going great. A farmer won’t say, “Come look at my fields, because I have no weeds” or “Come see my corn, because it’s really looking awesome.”
Usually, what I hear is something like, “Hey, I sprayed this herbicide and I still have weeds. What’s going on?”
Adding an adjuvant to the spray tank can help get more of the herbicide you’re applying to its intended target and be more effective when it gets there.
Here are some reasons why you should make adjuvants part of your weed-control strategy.
1. They help protect your crop protection product investment. Using a high-quality adjuvant can help you get the most out of your crop inputs by getting the herbicide’s active ingredient on the plant, into the plant and through the plant to eliminate weeds effectively. Using the right adjuvant can help you:
• Reduce fines. An adjuvant can help deliver more droplets in the ideal droplet diameter spectrum to keep crop protection products from veering off target or evaporating.
• Improve deposition and coverage. Droplets at the optimal size cover a larger area of the leaf.
• Increase canopy depth. Adjuvants help get the active ingredient in the herbicide deeper into the plant canopy for better efficacy.
• Eliminate weeds earlier. Timelier weed elimination conserves water, nutrients and sunlight for your crop.
2. You get data-supported performance. You should absolutely expect effective performance from a high-quality, data-backed adjuvant. Your adjuvant should be both laboratory- and field-tested to ensure it performs in a variety of conditions. It should also be labeled to work with a herbicide that eliminates the specific weed or weeds you’re targeting.
Make sure any adjuvant you use has data to validate that if the product is applied at a particular rate, a certain percentage of weeds will be eliminated. Using a rate that is too low won’t give you adequate control — but if you go too high, you’ll overspend. Your agronomist can help you determine the right rate and the best price to achieve optimal control.
3. You attain a high-quality tankmix. A high-quality adjuvant can help achieve the proper consistency for your tankmix, so you don’t end up with something resembling caulking compound or cottage cheese. It can also help identify problems you can’t see. For example, there may be a product in the tank that is antagonized by another ingredient. The solution still flows through your booms and doesn’t cause buildup, but it’s not eliminating your weeds. That’s why it’s so important to know how the active ingredient in your herbicide interacts with the adjuvant you’re using.
Also, most adjuvants will come with a recommendation of when to place them in the tankmix to ensure optimal efficacy and mixture consistency. It is critical to receive the proper weed efficacy tankmix studies for adjuvants. If you are not provided with this information, pick another adjuvant that comes with data to support its performance.
4. They use dollars wisely. Using a high-quality adjuvant in the right way is just as important as the quality of the herbicide itself, and can mean the difference between good weed control and excellent weed control. Even with stagnant commodity prices, it’s not worth skimping on something that can help optimize your weed control — and, as a result, your return on investment and yield potential.
These are table stakes for getting the most out of your adjuvant purchase. You should expect data, performance, quality and support when making an adjuvant investment. Talk with your agronomist now about the adjuvant program that best fits your fields.
Zuk is a regional agronomist with WinField United in southern Minnesota. Contact him at [email protected].