As the cost of fungicides continues to increase, it becomes more and more important to make sure that you are utilizing these products efficiently and effectively. There are numerous ways to maximize the benefits of your specific fungicide, and I will be describing a few steps that an applicator can take. We all have learned these tips along the way either from on-the-job training or in a classroom, but it’s always nice to have a refresher.

Choosing the Correct Nozzle

Understanding and selecting the correct nozzle for your fungicide application is essential and dependent on many factors. Fungicides are classified as either a systemic or a contact, and your nozzle selection can vary depending on which classification you’re applying. Contact fungicides require a smaller droplet size to coat the leaf blade thoroughly. Nozzles that produce a coarse droplet will provide an excellent application of a systemic fungicide. It’s also important to make sure that your application equipment has the ability achieve the correct psi (pounds per square inch). Some nozzles are designed to supply the applicator their desired volume at a lower psi while other sprayers can operate at higher values. There are many different options when it comes to nozzle selection, and your ATS sales rep is able to work with you to choose the most effective nozzle.

Accurately Calibrating the Sprayer

Another step toward fungicide efficiency is to examine your sprayer and confirm that it’s calibrated correctly. At a minimum, this should be done before the beginning of each season and ideally throughout the season. A properly-calibrated sprayer will result in two things: it will ensure that you aren’t applying too much and not wasting product. It’ll also help to confirm that the applicator isn’t applying too small of an amount to protect the plant. Most nozzle suppliers will have application charts so that an applicator can confirm the nozzle has the desired speed, pressure, and a gallon per minute output. These tables make it very easy to perform a calibration on your sprayer. When calibrating the sprayer, it’s critical pay attention to the speed of your machine. Many sprayers are equipped with digital speedometers, and it’s important to make sure they are correct. Nowadays many smartphones can track your speed utilizing its GPS, and this is a great tool to capture precisely how fast you are going. Your ATS sales rep can also lead you in the right direction during the nozzle selection process.

Taking a Look at the pH

There are instances where an applicator is convinced they’ve made an effective fungicide application; however, they later notice the disease never clears. An important aspect to look at would be the pH of the water utilized in the solution. Many fungicides can begin to lose their effectiveness if they are mixed using an alkaline solution, so it’s beneficial to do a pH test of the water you are using to fill your sprayer.
For example, Armor Tech IP 238 will rapidly begin to break down when mixed with water that has a pH value of greater than 8. Superintendents will take advantage of using a buffering agent to combat this problem. Nutrol is a very effective buffering agent that Advanced Turf Solutions carries. It’s important to do a jar test of your water to determine the exact rate of Nutrol you should add. Adding a buffering agent to your tank will help to provide more consistent results, more effective applications, fewer re-sprays, and just a piece of mind to the superintendent that he is getting the most out of the fungicide.

Rotating and Recording

The final tip on maximizing your fungicide performance is to remember to keep your fungicides in rotation and always be cognizant of exactly how many times you have applied a certain chemical family. Having a tentative fungicide application program already in place, along with keeping a detailed record of each application, will help you see these issues before they arise. Failure to monitor your applications will result in the pathogen becoming resistant to the fungicide, thus limiting your control options. The chemical family SDHI (Succinate Dehydrogenase Inhibitor) has many active ingredients that help to control different diseases. For example, BASF’s Xzemplar is arguably the best dollar spot control right now and a member of the SDHI chemical family. Your ATS sales rep will be your greatest resource in helping you map out a responsible program that offers proper chemical rotation.

As mentioned before, there are many other steps to take to ensure that you are getting the most out of your applications. If you have any questions about how to tackle the tasks mentioned here, your best bet would be to consult with your local Advanced Turf Solutions sales rep. Their expertise and field experience will help you to maximize all of your applications-not just fungicides!