Spring 1988 // Volume 26 // Number 1 // Ideas at Work // 1IAW3

Previous Article Issue Contents Previous Article

The Technique's in the Bag


Tom Whitson
Extension Weed Specialist and
Assistant Professor
Department of Plant, Soil and Insect Science
University of Wyoming-Laramie

Demonstrations have long been used by Extension to show farmers and ranchers side-by-side comparisons of different varieties of fertilizers and pesticides to be used on the farm. This is as true today as ever.

Herbicide demonstrations have always been difficult for county agents because of problems with storage, product availability, and measurements that need to be done on expensive equipment. Some products must be weighed on accurate scales capable of measurements down to 0.001/lbs.

Prepackaged herbicide demonstrations are used by several universities, but the questions of what containers to use, how to clean or dispose of them, and leakage have always been a worry.

A new packaging system is working well at the University of Wyoming. The secret is the plastic heat-sealed bags that are widely used in the food processing business. Emulsifiable concentrates, wettable powders, dry flowables, and granular herbicides can be packaged with no leakage problems. Bags are inexpensive, costing about a nickel each, and can be labeled with mailing labels listing types of herbicide, rates, and plot numbers to be sprayed.

A pair of scissors works nicely to open the bags at the study area. After the herbicides are mixed with water, the empty bags can be carried to plots to be sprayed. This prevents copying plot numbers under conditions that increase the likelihood of a mistake. Bags are triple rinsed and easily disposed of by burning after the demonstration.

County agents in Wyoming are being equipped with six-nozzle knapsack carbon dioxide pressurized sprayers capable of spraying a 10-foot swath. Demonstrations are planned to allow time for prepackaging. In most demonstrations, both the high and low labeled rates of all recommended herbicides for a crop are applied for comparisons. Some county agents are planning to identify each herbicide-treated area and show the cost per acre of each treatment.

The study areas are located near highways and well-traveled roads and are identified with 2-by-4-foot professionally painted aluminum signs. The type of demonstration, county name, and cooperator names are hand-lettered with plastic vinyl letters. The signs make the public aware of county agent field demonstrations being conducted, and serve as reminders to tractor operators to avoid the area. Producers with demonstration areas say they get continual questions from their neighbors about the studies.