Evaluation of spray drift using low-speed wind tunnel measurements and dispersion modeling
The EPA’s proposed test plan for the validation testing of pesticide spray drift reduction technologies (DRTs) for row and field crops, focusing on the evaluation of ground application systems using the low-speed wind tunnel measurements and dispersion modeling, was evaluated. Relative drift reduction potential for a given DRT tested in a low-speed wind tunnel is derived from airborne droplet size measurements and airborne and deposited liquid volume measurements downwind from the spray nozzle. Measurements of droplet size and deposition data were made in a low-speed wind tunnel using standard reference nozzles. A blank emulsifiable concentration spray was applied at two different wind speeds. The wind tunnel dispersion (WTDISP) model was used to evaluate the drift potentials of each spray using the droplet size and spray flux measured in the wind tunnel. The specific objectives were (1) the evaluation of model accuracy by comparison of modeled downwind deposition to that measured in the wind tunnel, (2) the evaluation of drift reduction potential of the spray nozzles relative to a reference nozzle, and (3) the determination of low-speed wind tunnel data collection requirements for model input to optimize the evaluation process. The modeled deposition data did not compare well to the measured deposition data, but this was expected as the model was not meant to be used for this purpose. The tested nozzles were rated using the International Standards Organization drift classification standard. The drift ratings generally showed trends of larger droplet producing nozzles having greater drift reduction ratings. An examination of several scenarios using reduced model input requirements, which would decrease the low-speed wind tunnel data collection time, did not show any conclusive results. They suggest that further testing and refinement of the data collection process and the WTDISP model may support wider use of this system for the assessment of DRTs.