BASF research helps aerial applicators ensure coverage and efficiency

Results of aerial spray coverage study presented at Ag Aviators Convention

RENO, NV, December 12, 2007 – Dr. Gary Fellows, technical manager with BASF, addressed the National Agricultural Aviators Association (NAAA) at their annual convention this week to present the results of a study by BASF and university experts on the spray coverage of aerially applied fungicide in corn.

The study, conducted in Iowa, Nebraska and Louisiana corn fields this summer, looked at how low-volume aerial applications impact spray coverage in the corn canopy. Testing of this kind is part of ongoing research by BASF to help improve the success of aerial fungicide applications.

“The preliminary findings indicate that when water per acre applied is lowered, calibration and accuracy become more important to ensure excellent coverage,” said Dr. Fellows. “That’s important because we want to help aerial applicators deliver the maximum value to their customers of Headline® fungicide in corn while being able to take full advantage of the efficiencies of the lower volume label.”

In 2006, a supplemental Headline fungicide label was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to allow a lower water volume of 2 gallons per acre (GPA) in aerial application, down from the original requirement of 5 GPA.

The findings presented at the NAAA convention are based on tests by the technical team at BASF that included spray cards placed at multiple levels (flag leaf, ear leaf and bottom leaves) within the crop canopy and analyzed for spray droplet distribution. Spray card analysis was done by Dr. Bob Klein at the University of Nebraska and Dr. Barbossa at Louisiana State University. Dyes, including a fluorescent dye, were added to the spray tank to examine droplet distribution and spray coverage on the cards. Black light illumination exposed the fluorescent dye, allowing coverage to be visually examined.

Photos under black light illumination from the corn trials were shown at the NAAA session.

Better spray coverage means increased efficiency for applicators. Dr. Fellows notes that is critical as more and more corn acres are treated with Headline fungicide – making the application window a very busy time for agricultural aviators.

“Providing the best possible coverage fosters healthy plant growth. That’s the best way corn growers can maximize their yield and get the most out of an application of Headline,” said Dr. Fellows.

Aerial applicators across the country reported a significant increase in grower demand for applying Headline fungicide for outstanding disease control with Plant Health benefits in corn during the 2007 season.

”We had an astronomical increase in demand for aerial applications this year, from 8,000 to 80,000 acres, and I think we’ll see another big increase in 2008,” said Craig Bair with Ag Flight, Inc., who aerially applies crops in the York, Nebraska area. “Customers that treated half their corn acres with Headline this year are saying they’ll treat all of their acres next year.”

In 2007, grower results with Headline applied to corn were similar to previous years – averaging yield increases of 12 – 16 bu/A, with many growers reporting even larger yield increases. Disease control has been excellent with all timings, leading to increased tolerance to stresses and more efficient use of water and nutrients by corn plants. Corn was standing better at harvest due to stronger, less diseased stalks, resulting in a faster, more efficient harvest.

Headline is the most researched fungicide on the market and has shown a yield advantage in more than 5,000 on-farm field trials covering more than one-quarter of a million acres.

Dr. Fellows applauded the work of the NAAA and its members in helping American agriculture produce record yields. “Aerial application of crop protection products is essential to increasing the output of American agriculture and meeting the demand for corn and soybeans. The NAAA led the way – doing a tremendous amount of work to ensure that happened in 2007 and will again in 2008.”

In addition, Bair and Dr. Fellows are both on the development committee for the NAAA’s Professional Aerial Applicator Support System (PAASS) program. The goal of this program is to reduce the number of aviation accidents and drift incidents associated with the aerial application of fertilizers and crop protection products through educational programs.

Bringing industry expertise to the committee, Dr. Fellows sees the results of the spray coverage study he presented as a contributor towards that education process.

For more information about Headline fungicide and other BASF crop protection products, visit

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Click here to listen to the audio from Dr. Gary Fellows of BASF, speaking at the NAAA Convention