Interested in reducing drift? Magnetic technology can help

Farmers viewed a showcase of emerging ag technology last week at the Illinois Farm Bureau Farm Income & Innovations Conference.

And the key products featured this year include new technology farmers can use to help reduce spray drift and manage crop diseases on their farms.

So, how can farmers reduce spray drift by up to 80 to 90 percent at a time when drift issues spread this season due in part to increased use of dicamba?

The answer lies in a series of magnets placed in sprayers that provide better control and placement of products applied to crops, according to Mike Newland of MagGrow.

“Magnetic technology for sprayers reduces drift, and it utilizes a much higher portion of the product you’re using,” Newland told conference attendees.

The technology was patented by a farmer in the U.S. and turned into a business by Ireland-based MagGrow. The company established business in Europe and came to the U.S. this year to build its distribution network.

The system involves the placement of a series of magnets in three components of a sprayer – the manifolds, sleeves that go in the boom and in the nozzle body.

“There’s no moving parts, and the flush is the same,” Newland said.

The system not only reduces spray drift but also increases the attachment of each product to the plant surface.

“We make it stick,” Newland said.

MagGrow currently is testing the system with dicamba. Newland believes it can help reduce drift of dicamba as well, although volatility issues create other challenges with that product.

Elsewhere, crop-monitoring technology developed in Israel, with a goal of improving crop disease management, is being implemented in the U.S., according to Ofir Schlam, co-founder and CEO of Taranis.

The service includes remote sensing, submillimeter aerial imagery, physical sensing through weather detection stations, field scouting, weather forecasts and biological models that farmers can use to monitor their crops in order to detect diseases or other crop issues in time to treat them.

Farmers who use the system can grow crop yields by 5 to 15 percent, according to Schlam.

Meanwhile, farmers interested in improving their crops below the ground can use Rootella, mycorrhizal inoculants, to increase the soil’s natural fertility, according to Marvin Ulmet of Groundwork BioAg.

The product works as fungi extend root systems and help plants absorb nutrients and water.

“Our best work is in your worst soils,” Ulmet said.

Rootella is available in granular form, powder and seed treatment, among other applications.