Improved efficiency of plant protection treatments for extension tomato crops in Baix Llobregat

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2019

The Agricultural Machinery Unit (UMA UPC) has demonstrated the efficiency of a new technique for applying plant protection products as an alternative to traditional methods, in exterior tomato crops grown in the horticultural production area of Baix Llobregat.

Currently, the farmers in this area mainly apply plant protection products manually using a backpack sprayer, and in some cases with a hydro-pneumatic canon. However, it has been shown that these traditional application techniques are not the most suitable to achieve optimum coverage of the crop with the plant protection products and could be a source of environmental pollution. This aspect is relevant, particularly in places surrounded by sensitive areas (inhabited and leisure areas, water courses, special bird protection areas, etc.), as is the case of the Baix Llobregat. In addition, the manual systems of backpack sprayers are very difficult to regulate and is it hard for the farmer to adapt working conditions to attain application volumes per hectare that are adapted to the crops throughout the season. The coverage of the product depends at all times on the arm movement of the person applying it, so some areas of the crop tend to be found with a much higher amount of product than necessary and other parts where the coverage is lacking.


 

As an alternative, the application of plant protection treatments has been tested using cart sprayers that are available on the market, equipped with vertical bars and fan nozzles. This achieves better quality of the plant protection treatment in terms of crop coverage and minimises the volume by hectare that must be applied (by up to 20%). Consequently, the risks for the person applying the product and losses of the product to the environment are minimised, at the same time as the biological efficiency of the treatment is maintained. The project focused on treatments to control mildew and alternaria leaf spot, diseases with high incidence in the area.

The project was funded by the Government of Catalonia’s Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food.