HOUSTON, Texas – An innovative aerial spray system now being used in Swaziland, Africa could help U.S. sugarcane growers improve the deposition and performance of crop protection chemicals, and solve the challenge of penetrating the crop canopy with aerial sprays.

Eagle Air (Pty) Ltd. in Big Bend, Swaziland, equipped a Cessna Husky airplane with an electrostatic aerial spray system to apply Fusilade herbicide and Ethrel growth regulator on sugarcane fields in this southeastern African country. Gert Badenhorst, owner of Eagle Air Ltd., reports that adding an electrostatic charge to the spray droplets appears to have improved spray deposition and penetration through the sugarcane canopy.

“This is the first time in 23 years of spraying that I couldn’t determine the direction of application of Ethapon on sugarcane,” says Badenhorst, who demonstrated the system for a group of about 40 people at the headquarters of Illovo Sugar Co., his largest customer. “Ethrel is finally working the way it’s supposed to, and we’re getting better results due to a far better penetration of the chemical into the canopy of the sugarcane.”

Manufactured by Houston-based Spectrum Electrostatic Sprayers, Inc., the Spectrum electrostatic aerial system is now being used by aerial applicators on four continents to apply crop protection chemicals to cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat, barley and sugarcane. Applicators and growers report that the high pressure, low volume system reduces their operating costs, improves deposition of chemicals, improves control of insect pests, weeds and diseases, and increases profitability.

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