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Am I Overspraying My Orchard, Grove or Nursery?

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

Are you overspraying your tree farm?

Spraying your orchard, grove or nursery is an integral part of your growing establishment’s plan to protect your yield and investment. For many years, the predominant school of thought has been: “Better safe than sorry.” In other words, the thinking has been that it was better to overspray than to take the chance of leaving your trees vulnerable to pest infestations or disease. However, time and research are unveiling new wisdom and strategies for keeping both your trees and the environment protected at the same time. Because of legislation on the horizon, growers in some states are being forced to change their conventional spraying techniques.


Here are the top three overspraying concerns you should consider right now.


1. The Clean Water Act and groundwater contamination issues.

Water quality issues, specifically groundwater contamination, continue to be a hot point with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On April 15, 2019, the EPA issued an Interpretative Statement in an effort to clarify the application of the Clean Water Act (CWA) as it pertains to groundwater contamination. Recent federal court decisions regarding whether National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits are required for releases of pollutants to groundwater caused uncertainty for many farmers regarding how to implement and enforce the NPDES permitting program. Ultimately, it was determined that releases of pollutants to groundwater are excluded from the CWA, and that each state should regulate discharges to groundwater within their jurisdictions.

However, the EPA’s Interpretative Statement does not apply to states that fall within the Fourth and Ninth Circuits. This leaves growers in Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina looking for clarity and awaiting further decisions from the Supreme Court. Many operations are looking into Water Quality Trading, a system in which units of pollutant reductions are traded as credits, as a way to become compliant with regulations.


What does this mean to growers?

All of this means that the future is uncertain for growers, but groundwater contamination issues are definitely in the crosshairs of future legislation consideration. Smart growers will get ahead of any surprises on the horizon by adopting more conservative spraying practices now.


2. The importance of environmental friendliness and sustainability to today’s consumers.

An organization’s commitment to environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices has become increasingly important to consumers today. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 85% of Millenials, 79% of Gen Xers and 72% of Baby Boomers indicated that sustainability was “extremely or very important” to them in terms of which companies they choose to do business with. Additionally, nearly 70% of North American consumers reported feeling “extremely or very concerned” about water pollution, with nearly as many reporting feeling the same way about pesticide use.


What does this mean to growers?

As consumers increasingly seek out growers who identify themselves as environmentally friendly and sustainable, growers who embrace these practices can gain a competitive edge. Additionally, farmers who are good stewards of the land by not overspraying will protect their own investments, as overspray may drip off the trees, seep into the ground and eventually cause tree root damage and a failure of the trees to thrive.


3. Liability issues with pesticide drift.

According to the EPA, pesticide drift issues result in thousands of complaints to state and local agencies each year. Pesticide drift can pose health risks to humans and livestock on the organization’s own acreage or on neighboring land. Pesticide drift can also result in economic losses if herbicides drift, settle on, and damage crops for which they weren’t intended. In fact, growers are increasingly finding themselves the target of lawsuits, accused of allowing pesticides to drift in a “careless or negligent manner.”


What does this mean to growers?

In today’s increasingly litigious society, businesses needs to proactively limit their exposure in every way they can. Utilizing outdated spraying practices could potentially open the door to liability for growers who haven’t done their research and made efforts to reduce the harm caused by pesticide drift.


What’s the best way for tree farmers to avoid these concerns?

These trends mean that overspraying, for many reasons, is not only an outdated practice, but can actually be quite costly in terms of potential, regulatory non-compliance, lost consumer confidence, potentially reduced yields and liability.

With the Smart-Apply Intelligent Sprayer™ , a new density-based spraying system developed by the USDA and brought to the market by Smart Guided Systems®, today’s tree farmer can dramatically reduce their chemical usage while maintaining equal or better protection for their crops.

It will easily retrofit to any conventional air blast sprayer, and its LiDAR technology allows the sprayer to sense the density of the canopy in addition to the tree itself. So, each part of the tree gets the proper amount of spray. No more. No less.

With the Smart-Apply Intelligent Sprayer™, tree farmers can realize the following savings (over conventional air blast spray systems):

  • Up to 73% reduction of chemical use.

  • Up to 87% reduction in spray loss beyond tree canopies.

  • Up to 87% less airborne drift.

  • Up to 93% reduction in spray loss on the ground.


About Smart-Apply

Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Smart Guided Systems manufactures the Smart-Apply® Intelligent Sprayer™, the only density-based, intelligent spray system available on the market today. At Smart-Apply, we’re committed to helping tree and nut growers and nursery owners across the United States and around the world realize chemical cost savings, improved sustainability through healthier trees and plants, cleaner and safer groundwater and greater overall yields, with an easy-to-use, reliable system based on years of research and cutting-edge technology.

Learn more about the Smart-Apply Intelligent Sprayer™:

Become a Smart-Apply Dealer

If you’d like to partner with a company that’s revolutionizing agriculture spraying systems and get ahead of the curve, join the Smart-Apply team today.

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