T.J. Hafner

On Target: ‘Just More Efficient, All the Way Around’

Agronomists at Oregon’s largest organic blueberry farm, Agricare, like the savings in labor and fuel they get from On Target electrostatic sprayers. They like that with an On Target sprayer they can treat three times as many acres in any one day than with a conventional sprayer. And they like the environmental benefits the sprayers provide.

It is the improved coverage of On Target Spray Systems, however, that ultimately convinced the farm to switch from conventional air-blast technology to electrostatic.

“Coverage is important for all pesticides, but for organic pesticides, which are basically all non-systemic, it is even more critical,” said T.J. Hafner, head agronomist for Agricare.

“We switched primarily to get increased coverage, which has translated into good pest control,” he said. “With the help of these sprayers, we’ve been able to manage spotted wing drosophila and mummy berry, two of the most problematic pests in organic blueberry production.”

Not that Agricare is turning its back on the other advantages electrostatic sprayers provide: In the two-plus years the farm has been using On Target sprayers, it has come to embrace the technology’s many efficiencies, many of which can be attributed to lower water usage.

“With the products that pesticide labels allow us to do it on, we go down to 16 gallons of water per acre, and we are still getting better coverage than we were with the air-blast sprayer when we were using 75 to 100 gallons per acre,” Hafner said.

Lower water usage means applicators spend less time filling spray tanks and more time treating blueberries, Hafner said.

“There is just a lot more down time with an air-blast sprayer. Now, instead of just sitting there idling and putting in more water, you just keep going,” he said.

“With the electrostatic, on a long day, we can get 130 to 140 acres done with our four-row electrostatic sprayer. With an air-blast sprayer, 30 acres is all we could get done,” Hafner said.

“We use lower rates of the chemicals too, so we’re putting less chemical into the environment, because they are being used more accurately,” Hafner said.“It is just more efficient, all the way around,” he said.