Perspective on rates, volumes and coverage

This short article is a thought exercise designed to give some perspective on chemical rates, carrier volumes and the foliar area we expect them to protect.

Imagine we are spraying the fungicide Captan on highbush blueberry. In Canada, the label rate is to apply 2kg/ha (28.5oz/ac) of planted area. Captan is 80% active ingredient, so a quick unit conversion tells us our objective is to apply 160mg of active ingredient per m2 of planted area. Let us suppose we will use 500L of carrier per hectare (53.5 gal/ac), which converts to 50mL/m2.

Now let’s say the blueberry patch is mature and well pruned. Each plant has a footprint of 1.2m by 1.2m (4ft by 4ft) and is 1.5m (5ft) high. The Leaf Area Index (LAI) is the one-sided green leaf area per unit ground surface area (LAI = leaf area / ground area) in broadleaf canopies. Assuming a conservative LAI of 2, that’s 2.88m2 (65ft2) of leaf surface area per plant. We double that figure since we want to spray both sides of the leaves, and then assuming the bushes are planted on 3m (10ft) alleys we arrive at a total foliar surface area per planted area of 3.25m2/m2 (3.25ft2/ft2).

A grower with his mature, well-pruned blueberries. 4′ x 4′ on 10′ alleys.

Let’s take these figures and convert them to something we can picture. An average grain of rice weighs 29mg and there are 15mL in a single tablespoon. What this means is that a sprayer operator’s goal is to dissolve active ingredient with a weight equivalent to 5.5 grains of rice in 3.5 tbsp of water and distribute it evenly over 3.25m2 (35ft2) of surface area! Now that’s perspective.

This photo shows how much foliar surface area exists in a square meter of mature highbush blueberry. In the centre is the typical amount of active ingredient and water that must be distributed over that area. It’s amazing what we ask of an air-assist sprayer.