Jason (@spray_guy) is the OMAFRA Application Technology Specialist. BSc (Biology and Psychology), MSc (Plant science), PhD (Plant cell electrophysiology). Jason is interested in improving the efficiency, efficacy & safety of agricultural pesticide use. Co-administrator of Sprayers101, author of the Airblast101 Handbook he's also a slow cyclist and runner.
This article isn’t about best practices, or social contracts, or innovative new technologies. It’s just a fascinating bit of history. If it has any moral at all, perhaps it’s to remember where we came from. I wonder where we’ll be tomorrow?
Let’s be clear – the practices described in this article are anachronistic and while I shouldn’t judge from my 2020 high-horse, they’re flat-out terrible. Don’t see them through nostalgic eyes. Instead, be thankful that sprayers and practices have evolved.
Here’s the background. A colleague of mine, a grower and well-respected pesticide safety / sprayer expert, recently held a farm auction in Innerkip, Ontario. He sent me a photo of his family sprayer, used in Oxford county in the 50s and 60s. I fell in love with it.
It was used to control broad leaf weeds in cereal crops. He recollected that thistle was a particularly painful issue. Especially when you had to grab hold of the grain sheaves and stook them. I confess I had to look up the term “stook“. They also sprayed a few cereal acres for neighbours, but never too far from home.
The drum was filled with a 1/2 inch hose right from the well, and when the long season was through, it was over-wintered (with whatever spray liquid remained) in the cellar. We’ve come a long way.