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A journey towards using air induction nozzles

Publication date: 14 November 2022

An extension and communication program for the papaya industry is helping growers adopt improved practices on‑farm

The investment Papaya industry extension and communications program (PP20000) is tasked with supporting Australian papaya growers in adopting improved practices on-farm and keeping up to date with the latest industry news, information, resources and technologies. The program is improving knowledge, awareness, skills and aspirations of papaya growers and other supply chain stakeholders in order to increase the profitability and sustainability of the Australian papaya industry.

Delivered by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), the project team is working collaboratively with the papaya industry, relevant stakeholders and value chain members to co-design and implement a program that focuses on:

  • Agronomic practices which improve input efficiencies
  • Integrated pest and disease management (particularly Papaya meleria virus and Phytophthora)
  • Improved post-harvest value chain management practices.

A papaya spray workshop was held in April 2022 as part of the program, hosted by Michael Oldano of RMC Farming in Cowley, Queensland. The workshop revisited key concepts behind air blast spraying in papaya and provided practical demonstrations of newer technologies in air blast spraying such as air induction nozzles.

Michael is likely to be the first grower to use air induction nozzles on his sprayer in the papaya industry after hosting the workshop. He says that it has been a journey and he has come through with some learnings that I’m happy to pass onto other growers in the industry.

Meet Michael Oldano, papaya grower from Cowley, Queensland

Michael and his wife Claudia grow papaya and sugarcane at their property in Cowley, South of Innisfail, with their two sons, Adam and Josh, who are both interested in carrying on the family business.

Why did you participate in the spray efficiency workshop?

“Spray coverage was identified as a topic growers wanted more information about as part of our new extension and communications program. I put my hand up to host the workshop as I had just purchased a second-hand sprayer to retire my old one, and I was interested in making sure it was set up correctly for my farm.

I was also curious about looking at spray coverage of the top of my papaya leaves, as I have been dealing with the emerging pest, African spider mite, which colonises the top of the leaf, as opposed to the bottom of the leaf.”

Did you learn anything?

“The workshop and exposure to new concepts such as air induction was just the beginning of my journey to get the basics right. The spray workshop demonstrated the use of air induction nozzles to improve coverage on the upper side of the leaf and its success meant that I immediately saw a place for air induction in my own set up.

The workshop also connected me with industry members who had experience in setting up sprayers. Given my interest in the topic, there has been a lot of follow up from other growers which has assisted me in my own journey. Since the workshop I have trialled three different nozzle arrays on my sprayers and I have improved my set up by changing the number of air induction nozzles used, their orientation and their spray quality. I’d like to thank Graham Betts from AskGB, Dave Doolan from GF Rural and Allan Blair for their assistance throughout this process.

Now I’m in a position where I can share my own learnings with other growers. For example, one of key pieces of feedback I have for growers pursuing air induction nozzles is the need for excellent filtration in the systems. I needed to install an additional 80mm in -line filter as well as individual nozzle sieves.”

What has been the benefit?

“I’m very optimistic that on my third attempt, I now have the set-up exactly right for my orchard, but I’ll be engaging with my agronomist for the final nod that we have optimal coverage. With my current step, I’m also finding that I have been able to reduce the amount of water volume being sprayed, and the amount of chemical (particularly copper) that I’m using – which is a big saving.

My sons are also very interested in the extension and communications program, and it has been a great opportunity for me to impart some of my own experience with them, as well as learn together and solve a problem.” Michael Oldano, papaya grower, Cowley, Queensland