By Diane Brown
The Airblast 101 website hosts practical pesticide application technology resources for advanced readers and trainers, including current factsheets, presentations, videos and articles.
Thanks to the efforts of Jason Deveau, application technology specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF), and others, there is a new online resource available with practical tools for users of airblast sprayers: Airblast 101. Operators of airblast sprayers apply pesticides to ensure the health and marketability of their crops. For an application to be successful, it is necessary to understand safe pesticide handling, which products to apply, correct application timing and to have the requisite skill to apply pesticides effectively and efficiently.
Until recently, operators had limited resources to address application skills. Airblast 101, now available online and recommended by Michigan State University Extension, is a classroom-style course designed to provide practical information for applying pesticides, plant growth regulators and foliar nutrients effectively, economically and in an environmentally responsible manner. Developed by OMAF in association with Croplife Canada, this course was created to introduce a new operator to spraying or to provide a review for a seasoned veteran.
Chapters include airblast sprayer efficiency; calibration; confirming coverage; nozzle choices; troubleshooting coverage; tank-mixes; controlling spray drift and sprayer maintenance and cleaning. Although metric units are used, there are pages with conversions to U.S. units and a wealth of other information worth a look for anyone using airblast sprayers.
The introduction of Airblast 101 in 2011 has provided hundreds of operators with a solid grounding in the basics of airblast sprayer operation as well advanced techniques. Those that have made changes to their spray programs report significant improvement in the effectiveness of the application, such as improved crop quality or yield, and greater application efficiency, such as pesticide inputs reduced by about 10 percent or more per annum and reduced environmental impact such as drift and runoff.
The Airblast 101 website hosts the entire content of the handbook along with a library of additional resources including factsheets, a series of sprayer-related PowerPoint presentations, instructional videos and articles submitted by Extension and university staff across North America. The website serves as a one-stop shop for airblast sprayer information and provides information about where Airblast 101 courses are being taught. The site is free to anyone interested in improving their spray programs.