• Agronomic Insights

Know your H20

Water fills up more than 90 per cent of your spray tank, but how much thought do you actually put into the quality of that water?

According to Greg Dahl, senior research manager for adjuvants, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides for WinField United Product Development, you should be paying a lot of attention to your water quality.

“It's hard enough to control weeds to begin with, Canada has got quite a few adverse conditions up there. Cold temperatures, dry, excessive heat and dust. They're all working against you. We don't need your spray water working against you too,” says Dahl, who’s based in River Falls, Wis. at the WinField United Innovation Center.

To make sure your water is working with you and not against you, you need to know where you’re at and the best way to do this is by sampling your water.

“Since 2018, WinField United Canada has been helping retailers and farmers to sample their water, find out what the quality of that water source is,” says Dahl.

These water samples typically take about two weeks to get the results. And you’ll be able to see what the quality of your water is and if it’s right for spraying.

“I have the opportunity to review each report and occasionally I will write on the reports, ‘It would be good if you can switch this water source to another water source when spraying.’ Hopefully the people can find a new source. I understand when they can't, but we need to use the best water that we can with these applications,” says Dahl.

When you’re looking at your water sample the most important part to look at is the cations in the water. Cations that you should specifically look out for are calcium, magnesium and iron.

“The cations that are in the water are probably the things that can negatively impact your spraying the most. If that cation has a positive charge or maybe two positive charges on it, it will attach to the negative charge on the herbicide and if that makes a crystal, that crystal will fall out either in the spray tank or mostly on the leaf surface and the herbicide won't work,” says Dahl.

“I always say, plants don't drink rocks. Anything that turns into a crystal is not going to get into the plant and is not going to work. So, we need to keep things liquid as long as we can. And with some of our adjuvants, we're able to help get it into the plant while it's still a liquid and make that herbicide work much better.”

Another cation that’s found quite prominently in parts of Canada is sodium.

“In Canada, it was a complete surprise to us how many samples we've got that really weren't hard, they didn't have much for calcium or magnesium, but sodium levels were really high,” explains Dahl.

“We did some research at the Innovation Center in River Falls, Wis. with different water sources and different amounts of sodium in them. We quickly found that sodium can antagonize glyphosate. But an adjuvant can help you overcome that sodium antagonism.”

This research was important to make sure the recommendations for adjuvant rates considered the high sodium levels.

So, once you know what kind of water you’re dealing with, you can start to explore a water conditioner to help with your issues. Crimson NG® is WinField United Canada’s water conditioner.

Crimson NG is designed to work on hard water so the products you’re using aren’t impacted by the water quality. 

“The sulfate found in Crimson NG has a negative charge. It will find cations like calcium, magnesium, sodium, etc. that have a positive charge and it will combine and make a rock or a crystal, i.e., removing the cation from the solution. 

“Whether that cation is in the spray tank or on the leaf surface, Crimson NG will tie up those cations, so they are no longer available to tie up your pesticide. That way you can get maximum effectiveness from your crop protection products,” explains Dahl.

If you’re interested in knowing more about water conditioners or getting a water sample, contact your local WinField United Independent Ag Retailer.


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