As we enter into 2022, farmers continue to face challenges like record-breaking inflation, unpredictable water sources, severe weather patterns, variability in labor, skyrocketing fuel costs, and scarcity within the supply chain. With a passion to reroute the industry, innovators are racing to guide agriculture into a new, more sustainable future: a blend of economic and ecological efficiencies.
Those aspirations are the driving force behind the electrostatic application experts, OnTarget Spray Systems, and their mission to save farmers, while saving the planet.
Earlier in his career, OnTarget Founder Willie Hartman was disappointed by the technology that was available to farmers when it came to nutrient and pest management. Specifically, he questioned the limited capabilities of air-blast sprayers, and the challenges farmers faced in identifying the success of their applications. To this day, even with the most expert-level machine calibration, the onerous operation of the air-blast sprayer requires hundreds of gallons of water and fuel, and hundreds of man-hours throughout the season. With the lack of air-blast sprayer precision, farmers face higher liability with drift, runoff, and labor.
Recognizing firsthand how antiquated sprayers haphazardly attempted to apply nutrients and protection to crops, Hartman knew farmers deserved better results.
Fundamental to successfully raising a crop for market, whether an almond in a candy bar, a grape cluster in a bottle of wine, or strawberries in a jar of preserves, farmers carefully apply nutrients and protection to their plants throughout the season, as needed. While the Environmental Protection Agency periodically reviews pest management solutions, agriculture equipment has limited oversight, oftentimes resulting in farmers’ slow adoption of advantageous technologies.
Dedicated to the notion that farmers want to work smarter, not harder, Hartman and his team of engineers set out to craft electrostatic technology that would prove the traditional air-blast sprayers as obsolete.
Behind the Electrostatic Technology of OnTarget
OnTarget’s electrostatic technology is straightforward: Droplets receive a positive charge before exiting the misting wands and landing on the negatively-charged plants. farmers point the wands in the direction of the crop, precisely distributing nutrients and protection. With 25 years in the making, the patented design guarantees holistic canopy penetration, evenly coating the most dense portions of the crops.
When first introduced to OnTarget’s technology, the agriculture pest control advisers of the Pacific Northwest were intrigued. AG RX’s Gary Omori, an expert in the strawberry industry and pest control, was introduced to OnTarget in the 90s. He realized the electrostatic sprayer was not only precise, but farmers would use fewer gallons water to operate.
“For every 16 ounces of Agri-Mek, the label says you must use 50 gallons of water, per acre,” Omori shared. “But with OnTarget’s electrostatic sprayer, you can use 15 gallons of water per acre of strawberries,” recalled Omori, who still uses an OnTarget rig on demonstration fields nearly 25 years later.
OnTarget Improves Industries, New and Old
While examining OnTarget’s sustainable impact on water savings, run-off, and drift, Hartman recognized the exciting potential to drastically improve farmers’ profit margins.
On average, OnTarget farmers reported using 77 percent less water, 65 percent less fuel, 61 percent less labor spraying compared to air-blast sprayers. For some industries and farm arrangements, OnTarget farmers reported using 88% less water, and spending 90% less time on spraying.
Since 1995, hundreds of farmers have converted to OnTarget to save time, water, fuel, and labor. With hundreds of thousands of dollars saved, OnTarget offers farmers an indisputable advantage for those who choose this investment for their operation
In addition to monetary savings, reports of improved produce quality and quantity are increasing.
“Just in these first three seasons since we purchased it, the OnTarget sprayer has definitely paid off in the reduction of labor costs and improved quality of the fruit,” said Felix Egerer, vineyard manager for the Okanagan Valley vineyard. “Our sprayers have proven time and time again to increase crop yields. This means farmers can use less to produce more!”
Mildew is also a concern that haunts even the most seasoned farmers and vineyards.
“It was probably one of the worst mildew vineyards out there, and, in one season, with the help of our OnTarget sprayer, we were able to turn it into a highly productive vineyard,” Mike Downer of Centerline Ag Services said. “It was an absolute rags to riches story, and guys that had worked on that farm for five years, and had never gotten a crop, were pumped about what they saw. And that was a blast.”
Another industry eager to advance with OnTarget are cannabis producers. As more cannabis farms adhere to environmental and state-specific business regulations, existing growers are increasingly finding a more saturated market.. Primarily used to apply nutrients to the growing cannabis leaves, OnTarget’s technology can reduce their spraying costs to less than half.
In concert with their commitment to environmental sustainability, OnTarget’s focus has always maintained a customer-centric approach. With this mindset, the electrostatic company stays ahead of trends, developing radical systems to accommodate innovative farming methods. When exploring the OnTarget fabrication facility, located in Mt. Angel, Oregon, Hartman and his team are often found customizing existing models to perfectly adapt to customers needs.
“Our team is on the forefront of new ideas, how we can help farmers manage a more profitable business,” explained Hartman. “We believe OnTarget is the missing piece of the puzzle that will help propel the agriculture industry forward.”
Exciting opportunities are on the horizon for this USA-made agriculture technology company. Looking even further into the future, OnTarget manifests visions of autonomous tractors, the elimination of fossil fuels, and GPS guided application rates.
Interested in learning more about the custom OnTarget electrostatic sprayers? With a helpful calculator, exciting industry newsletter, and speciality crop demonstrations, visit us at ontargetspray.com.