Why do farmers treat their crops with pesticides? Because of pests and disease of course. Pests can eat, infect, or even kill a whole crop. This challenge to keep pests and disease away from the food we eat causes farmers to look for alternative ways to keep them at bay. Using pesticides are one of those ways. This benefits the farmers producing greater yield in production, while keeping labor costs down.
Farmers begin their season of growing crops in spring. The spring is the best because that’s when there is the maximum amount of water, and when crops and grasses grow the best. But this is also a good time for weeds to grow as well. This creates competition for the desired crop that wants to be harvested later in the year. To stop this competition, crops need to be sprayed with two common methods.
Backpack sprayers are used for small applications or areas that large tractors can’t maneuver through. They are put on a pack that goes on an individual’s back that has a wand to spray the desired areas. In large applications, the use of mechanical sprayers is highly effective. Hydraulic sprayers, which are used on the fields, consists of a tank, a pump, a lance or arm of nozzles that spray the pesticide. Both of these use a mixture of the pesticide and water to dilute the mixture so the application isn’t highly concentrated and kill the crop.
When it comes to spraying, there are two times that most farmers use on most crops. There is the pre-emergent and post-emergent spray of crops. Pre-spray attempts to reduce competitive pressure on newly germinated plants by removing undesirable organisms and maximizing the amount of water, soil nutrients, and sunlight available for the desired crop. Post-spray requires the use of specific chemicals chosen minimize harm to the crop. Some people use genetically modified crop species that are resistant to various pesticides that helps minimize harm.
So who are the people behind the use of pesticides? Most people that use pesticides are farmers who do large applications but some small time gardeners do it as well to help maintain the weeds to a minimum. In the farm applications, the people that apply the chemicals are migrant workers, farm owners, family members of the owner, or anybody that works on the farm can apply the treatments to the crop. But it is done mostly by the farmers themselves or family that is capable of operating the equipment to do so, this is because the machinery can be complicated to run. But there isn’t any education for operating the equipment, it takes time to understand how it operates. Also, there are few that are willing to work labor for farmers due to low pay or no benefits. This causes a demand for laborers or migrant workers to work on the farms. With this demand, farmers have started using large farm equipment to help maximize the area covered while reducing time in the field and not having to pay workers wages. There can be a ton of physical limitations, if the equipment isn’t functioning then it must be fixed which can be not only time consuming but physically tiring as well.
Aktar, M. W., Sengupta, D., & Chowdhury, A. (2009, March). Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984095/
- (2017, July 10). Why Do We Spray? Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://southsaskfarmer.com/2013/07/12/why-do-we-spray/
The Best Backpack Sprayers For The Money. (2017, October 17). Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://www.epicgardening.com/best-backpack-sprayer/
Pest Control Courses. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2018, from http://aa-plus.co.uk/courses/pest-control/