Key Issues Perspective
Low-Use-Rate Products Have the Advantage
The trend is toward low-use-rate crop protection products that are not too "concentrated" to be difficult for measuring and handling in field operations.
"In dealing with low-use-rate products, measurement has to be precise when measuring from minibulk storage tanks, but it can be done with products applied at a few ounces per acre," noted Tracy Waddington, crop production agronomist with Effingham Equity, Pana, Ill. "And with that kind of rate it can also be easy to dump 2 ½ gallon jugs in a tank and then fill the tank with the appropriate water or carrier for the number of jugs poured into the tank, eliminating any measurement."
There is a lot of flexibility in how an ag retailer can store and handle the low-volume products. Most Bayer CropScience products are low-use-rate and being sold in 2 ½ gallon jugs, although new 250-gallon minibulks are being used by more and more retailers. The main concept is that a four minibulk storage system installed at the retailer can be used to load nurse trucks and sprayers, but for mixing at the end row of a field, the 2 ½ gallon jugs still work the best, according to Larry Cink, Bayer CropScience technical sales consultant in Iowa.
At a 5.6-ounce-per-acre application rate, Corvus herbicide is an example of a product that's easy to use in 2 ½ gallon jugs instead of hauling a minibulk to the field. A total of 360 acres can be treated with 16 gallons of Corvus, whereas an application of a high-volume herbicide — four quarts per acre label rate — would require an entire 270-gallon minibulk of product.
The same comparison holds true for storage space at a crop production facility. Comparing those same two use rates means that a 2,000-gallon storage tank is required for what one 250-gallon Bayer CropScience minibulk would hold for treating acres.
Refilling large storage tanks in season is a concern, Waddington said. "We used to get tanker loads of product in during the night because that is when we could get them to refill those large storage tanks during the season."
Floor space for storing product is at a premium for most retail operations, he further noted, and lower-volume products in jugs means more acres worth of product takes up less space. More acres of product can be in storage, or storage space is available for a larger selection of different products. Today, more than ever, a larger number of products are vying for storage space at retailer operations.
If a retailer installs a minibulk rack for Bayer CropScience products such as Corvus or Capreno, the operation still won't have the concerns of higher-volume minibulk products.
"You'll see stacks of minibulks at the end of the season around some dealers' places. But with our products, if a retailer had a good year selling Corvus or Capreno, there still would only be something like 10 empty minibulks to deal with. Those 10 minibulks would represent at least 56,000 acres having been treated," Cink explained.
As for the use of jugs, there would be fewer numbers of them to rinse and for which to dispose. "In my opinion, the real advantage of 2 ½ gallon jugs is to the grower. We sell a lot of grower applied products, and there are less jugs to dump and less rinsing necessary," Waddington said.
Last but not least, Waddington pointed out how low-use-rate products are less of a target by those concerned about the environment and how farmers use pesticides. "It is better to be talking in terms of ounces rather than quarts being applied into the environment, especially since the public doesn't understand farming."
For more information about benefits of minibulk systems or low-use-rate products, Cink can be reached at email@example.com.