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Stackyard News Sep 07

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Spray Nozzle for Farmers Helps Skiers Defy Friction

A NOVEL spray nozzle originally designed to help farmers achieve better weed control by treating with a sloping spray from the side, rather than above, could also soon be helping top skiers via slopes of a different kind.

Pictured Darryl Shailes: The sloping Hawk nozzle already a big success for farmers is now helping skiers on the slopes

Hawk nozzle

That follows testing by a Norfolk ski club where the nozzle’s precise spray characteristics have also proved ideally suited to wetting the surface of their dry ski slope – helping to give skiers a smoother ride.

Developed by Syngenta Crop Protection, working in partnership with leading nozzle manufacturer Hypro-EU, the angled nozzle was originally conceived to help cereal growers overcome the challenge of getting enough herbicide spray on to small black-grass weeds – when little thicker than a paperclip in size.

By producing a 40 degree forward-angled spray, the nozzles treat the small, upright weeds from the side where they present a bigger target, and have been shown to deposit over twice as much spray as a vertical nozzle, says Syngenta application specialist, Tom Robinson.

More recently, the same nozzles alternating backwards and forwards along the sprayer have also been shown to boost control of the weed even earlier – using the recently-launched herbicide Defy to treat the soil surface before black-grass has even emerged.

Now, by mounting angled Hawk nozzles upside down between the brushes which make up a dry ski slope, the Norfolk Ski Club in Norwich has also found them perfect for spraying a film of water to lubricate the slope’s surface.
In this way, friction is reduced and skiers get a smoother, more snow-like ride.

“To make the slope faster you have to irrigate it,” explains the club’s vice chairman Nigel Riches, who also tests farm inputs as a trials manager for the independent agricultural research organisation, The Arable Group (TAG).

“We have been using nozzles which shoot water into the air and so rely on wind distribution. With the Hawk nozzle coming out at an angle, instead of spraying it in the air where it can be blown away, it spreads it wider across the slope and puts more on the surface. You’re getting it where you want it. The Hawk nozzles are far more reliable,” he adds.

Club coach, Darryl Shailes, who is also chairman of the club’s instructor’s committee, agrees that the combination of the nozzle’s angle and finer droplets improves skiing performance.

“You get better lubrication on the brushes," explains Mr Shailes, who also advises farmers for agronomy firm HL Hutchinson. “They do a better job of covering the surface.

“We don’t get the dry patches, so it’s easier to ski on, is faster and you don’t damage the skis so much. A lot of my growers use all sorts of Syngenta nozzles,” he adds.

According to Hypro-EU sales manager, Ian Sutton, while conventional nozzles have been used previously on dry ski slopes, this is the first time the company has supplied angled nozzles, as far as he knows. However, Hawk nozzles have certainly helped farmers with weed control, he adds.

“It’s interesting how the concept of spraying at an angle can help in different scenarios,” continues Tom Robinson. “As well as forward and backward angled nozzles helping with weed control – including a 30% boost to black-grass control when used to apply pre-emergence Defy – angled nozzles can also help when spraying potatoes.

“With Defy, we believe angled nozzles help by achieving better spray coverage around clods on the soil surface. So perhaps a similar thing happens when spraying brushes on the dry ski slope. Either way, they are a very useful technology,” he adds.

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