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Revolving nozzle: better by design!

The brown, untreated areas on the tubers shows where there is no surface fungicide, following treatment using a static nozzle. (12 Kb JPEG)
The brown, untreated areas on the tubers shows where there is no surface fungicide, following treatment using a static nozzle.

Potato growers need the highest quality seed tubers that will produce the healthiest, highest yielding and most marketable crop; this requires that tubers be surface treated with a fungicide that controls a wide range of diseases -particularly those associated with skin finish and yield. The treatment process typically takes place in a shed using a roller table that tumbles the tubers along underneath a spraying nozzle; “but” explains Ben Magri “this traditional system is not working at its best and, may not always meet today’s operator and environmental safety expectations”.

Ben first addressed the efficiency of existing systems and could see that although the tubers tumbled along the roller table well, coverage of spray on their surfaces was not complete; the brown, untreated areas of the tubers are clearly visible.

Complete and uniform coverage is gained when the spraying nozzle is moved circularly above the tumbling tubers. (14 Kb JPEG)
Complete and uniform coverage is gained when the spraying nozzle is moved circularly above the tumbling tubers.

This lack of coverage would lessen the effectiveness of the sprayed product to control the unwanted diseases. Many permutations of nozzles were considered until the breakthrough was made. “Rather than have a static nozzle” Ben said “I designed and Team Sprayers manufactured a rotating nozzle. The nozzle sprays vertically and moves in a horizontal circle on an arm”.

The benefits were immediately apparent and coverage is greatly enhanced. Now, as the potatoes tumble along the belt, they are exposed – not just once – but several times to the moving spray; each and every side of the tuber has the chance to be treated with the fungicide.

TEAM STOREMASTER ‘CTC’ (Complete Treatment Centre); an enclosed spraying chamber minimises pesticide losses and subsequent waste as well as operator and environmental risks. (11Kb JPEG)

The improved design of the nozzles also gave Team Sprayers the opportunity to improve the design of the spraying ‘tables’.  Currently, whilst operators use the treating ‘tables’ in a building, there is no effective containment of the spray or of other potential losses.  With the new design, the whole spraying system and the belt exposed to the spray is enclosed such that any losses are contained and can be re-used.

As always, Stewardship Community surfers are most welcome to write in and contact us with their thoughts and experiences on this topic: seed tuber treatment and on all matters to do with promoting the safer, more effective use of pesticides.


 
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