Studies have shown that most pesticide and herbicide sprays never reach their target. That’s because most large pesticide or herbicide drops don’t stay on the plant, thus polluting the environment. However, without the large drops, the fine pesticide or herbicide drops would drift away and not reach the plant canopy to do their work.

To combat this problem, entomologist Robin Taylor and colleagues at Ohio State University’s Laboratory for Pest Control Application Technology developed an experimental sprayer with two nozzles — one which releases large drops of water — instead of a pesticide or herbicide — and one which releases a fine spray of pesticide or herbicide. The big drops of water pull the fine drops into the plant canopy where they can do their job.

In experiments which used a widely-used glyphosate herbicide, the sprayer killed 100 percent of weeds when applied at 50 percent of the rate specified on the label, thereby slashing the application rate in half. In other experiments, the sprayer reduced pesticide and herbicide rates by more than 50 percent, Taylor says.

The university holds the patent and is licensing it to Spray Redux, LLC, which plans to market the sprayer in Ohio this fall, with sales expanding to other states and countries if successful.