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J Environ Sci Health B. 2011;46(1):1-23. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2010.515161.

Agrochemical spray drift; assessment and mitigation--a review.

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Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Richland, WA 99354, USA.


During application of agrochemicals spray droplets can drift beyond the intended target to non-target receptors, including water, plants and animals. Factors affecting this spray drift include mode of application, droplet size, which can be modified by the nozzle types, formulation adjuvants, wind direction, wind speed, air stability, relative humidity, temperature and height of released spray relative to the crop canopy. The rate of fall of spray droplets depends upon the size of the droplets but is modified by entrainment in a mobile air mass and is also influenced by the rate of evaporation of the liquid constituting the aerosol. The longer the aerosol remains in the air before falling to the ground (or alternatively striking an object above ground) the greater the opportunity for it to be carried away from its intended target. In general, all size classes of droplets are capable of movement off target, but the smallest are likely to move the farthest before depositing on the ground or a non-target receptor. It is not possible to avoid spray drift completely but it can be minimized by using best-management practices. These include using appropriate nozzle types, shields, spray pressure, volumes per area sprayed, tractor speed and only spraying when climatic conditions are suitable. Field layout can also influence spray drift, whilst crop-free and spray-free buffer zones and windbreak crops can also have a mitigating effect. Various models are available to estimate the environmental exposure from spray drift at the time of application.

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