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New herbicide delivery system delivers made-to-measure solutions

Dean Marshall’s variable-sized fields do not present nearly the challenge they once did.


May 4, 2009
By Editorial Staff

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Dean Marshall’s variable-sized fields do not present nearly the challenge they once did.
 

WTCM-11_20PPac  
Made-to-order herbicide blends are simplified with PrecisionPac. Photo courtesy of DuPont  

In 2008, the Edgerton, Alberta farmer needed to spray a small field with Express SG, and he went to his local retailer and purchased the exact amount of product he needed. When he was done, he was not left with extra product to use up or store for the winter. Better yet, the herbicide he bought came in a dry formulation of soluble granules and was metered into a grower bag by his retailer that was labeled precisely and ready to pour into his spray tank.

The new system that allowed Marshall’s retailer to precisely measure the herbicide is from DuPont and is called PrecisionPac. It is about the size of a large refrigerator.

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The new PrecisionPac delivery system is designed to hold up to six active ingredients that can be combined in various ratios to help meet a grower’s agronomic requirements and tackle specific weed problems. During the western Canadian trial phase in 2008, the two broadleaf herbicides, Refine SG and Express SG were offered for purchase.  Several more herbicide blends will be added beginning in 2009 as they receive registration from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).

“It seemed so handy,” says Marshall. “You could set it up for our size of sprayer tank. When you can have a product that you can design yourself for your tank and field, it makes it so much easier to handle and a lot less mess than cleaning out jugs.”

Placing his order was simple. All Marshall did was go to the order desk at his retailer to explain what he needed. He wanted to add Express SG to his glyphosate pre-seed burn-off treatment in order to heat up his broadleaf weed control.

The staff took Marshall’s request for enough Express SG for his 800-gallon sprayer tank and punched the order into a keypad on the front of the PrecisionPac system. It is through this keypad that the retailer tells the machine which active ingredients to dispense and the number of acres to be treated. The machine dispenses the correct amount of Express SG, and Marshall simply tank-mixes that amount with his glyphosate in his sprayer tank.
  
The six active ingredients are stored in 16-kg flexi-bags in the upper cabinet of the PrecisonPac system. Many safeguards are employed to ensure that the proper ingredients are dispensed into the grower bag waiting at the bottom of the cabinet. Each grower bag is pre-labeled for the various herbicide blends that can be dispensed and contains a unique radio frequency identification (RFID) tag to ensure that the grower bag is filled with the correct product.

Once the product is dispensed into the grower bag, a label is applied indicating the net contents. The retailer can also label it with the grower’s name and field identification.

To be able to bring this innovative new technology to Canadian growers, an enormous amount of work has gone into research and registration of various product combinations and rates with the Pest Management Review Agency. DuPont also conducted more than 150 federal research permit trial sites with growers to add some real grower-applied information to their pool of data for the PrecisionPac blends.
 
All this work perfecting the system means that when a grower walks into a retail location that has a PrecisionPac system, he will be able to describe the weed issues in a field and get a customized herbicide blend that fits his unique requirements.

“Customers get the power to precisely select their weed control requirements through the flexibility and customization that PrecisionPac offers,” says Scott Hollick, account manager, special projects for DuPont. “The end result is a product that is more closely designed for a grower’s farm or field versus a packaged product that may not have as precise a fit.”

With the retailer’s help, growers can select for short residual or extended control, choose multiple active ingredients and herbicide groups to manage resistance, and make blends specific for in-crop, pre-seed burn-off, or chem-fallow or post-harvest weed control.

Tony Steen, ag retail manager at Viterra’s Trochu, Alberta location, is a big fan of the PrecisionPac system. “The biggest advantage I can see to it is that farmers can get the right amount of product for the fields when they need to spray,” he says. “If they only need 60 acres, we can put that amount in a PrecisionPac grower bag.”

It also saves the producer measuring product into the sprayer tank. “We usually make up grower bags to match a customer’s sprayer tank load,” says Steen.

“I farm between 8000 and 9000 acres,” says Marshall. “You can spend a lot of time just sitting and mixing.”

The process can get even more refined. “PrecisionPac retailers involved in the trial process have had product ready for certain growers before they arrive to pick it up,” says Hollick. “It’s easy when the retailer knows the field size, sprayer tank size and weed species for each specific location to be sprayed.”

It is that pinpoint customization that will be the biggest boon to growers. Not only will they get herbicide mixed precisely for their situation, they will pay precisely for what they need.

DuPont plans to have numerous PrecisionPac systems in operation at retail locations across Western Canada in spring 2009. The company will continue to expand availability during the next few years.


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