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Spectrum Electrostatic Sprayers, Inc.

7500 San Felipe, Suite 860

Houston, TX 77063 USA

Electrostatic spray system helps boosts sugar

cane sucrose by 20 percent on Swaziland estate

The use of an electrostatic aerial spray system to apply sugar cane ripening agents on one of Swaziland’s largest plantations appears have contributed to a dramatic 20 percent increase in cane sucrose content.

Gert Badenhorst, owner of Eagle Air Ltd., based in Swaziland, reports that pre-harvest sucrose samples extracted last January from nine sugar cane fields showed an average sucrose content of 16.1 percent, compared to an average of 13.4 percent sucrose in samples taken from the same fields the previous year. Each of the fields was aerially treated with ethephon at a rate of 1.35 liters/ha at 12 weeks pre-harvest to suppress flowering and leaf growth and promote stalk development, and with Fusilade Forte at 300 ml./ha at six weeks prior to harvest to hasten ripening and boost sucrose content. The materials were applied with a 400-gallon Thrush and a Cessna Husky equipped with a Spectrum electrostatic spray system.

“I first began using the electrostatic spray system five years ago to apply Ethrel and Fusilade on sugarcane, and the results have been excellent,” says Badenhorst. “The electrostatic system gives us far better spray deposition and penetration into the plant canopy. Each year, the average sucrose levels have been better than in previous years.”

Badenhorst says his customer has confirmed they will definitely ask him to use the electrostatic spray system again next season.

Developed and patented by the USDA-ARS, the electrostatic spray system is a high-pressure, low volume system which uses the airplane’s electrical system to charge spray droplets with a positive or negative charge. The system is designed to apply spray materials at a reduced rate of just 10 liters (1 gallon) of solution per acre. Research has shown that as the charged spray droplets approach the target crop, they induce an opposite charge on leaf and stem surfaces, activating electrostatic forces that draw the droplets to the foliage. Benefits include improved spray deposition and penetration of the plant canopy, improved chemical performance, reduced application time and cost, and a reduction in chemical waste from spray droplets that fail to reach the target vegetation.

Manufactured by Houston-based Spectrum Electrostatic Sprayers, Inc., the Spectrum electrostatic aerial system is used by aerial applicators on four continents to apply crop protection chemicals to cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat, barley and sugar cane. For more information, visit the website at, or contact the company at

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