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Sliders — a revolution?

After more than forty years in the ag-aviation business, it never ceases to amaze me when a new idea becomes a reality. Of the many words that can describe ag-aviation, ingenuity would be one of those words. This month’s cover story, Sliders, is a perfect example.

Just when you think that everything imaginable has been tried, developed or is in use related to treating crops with an aircraft, along comes something totally new and different. An Israeli company has teamed up with several Brazilian aerial spray analyst to test a very different concept for liquid applications. Using an Air Tractor and an Ipanema with very different airframes as test beds, these analyst have reasonably proven Sliders improve the application compared to rotary atomizers.

The manufacturing company, ADAMA, has designed an arrangement of plates strategically placed forward of hydraulic CP-11TT nozzles. These plates amount to wind deflectors that impact the way the spray exits the nozzles.

As of yet, I have not had the opportunity to actually examine the Slider boom arrangement. However, I have known two of the Brazilian analyst for many years and their credentials are impeccable. Dr. Wellington Carvalho is a highly respected analyst with many years experience in spray technology. He has written several articles for AgAir Update about his work with spray application technology. The same is true of Dr. Ulisses Antuniassi. They are always featured speakers at the national Brazilian ag-aviation convention hosted by SINDAG, the Brazilian counterpart to the U.S.’s NAAA.

As to whether Sliders will become the next revolution in ag-aviation is yet to be determined. I know the very first thought for many readers is, “drag”. How much do Sliders slow the aircraft and do they impact the maneuverability of the aircraft? I can’t answer that question, but I am looking into it. Evidently, not significantly, or it should have been reported.

It is important to note the evaluations were done using CP-11TT nozzles and comparing them to rotary atomizers. It would have been interesting to have made comparisons with and without Sliders. However, I know the reasoning behind comparing to rotary atomizers is that in sugarcane applications in Brazil, the most popular application equipment is the rotary atomizer using very low applications rates, often less than one gallon per acre. And, based on the Sliders’ set up with the boom, using a rotary atomizer would be difficult and violate the technology Sliders is using to reduce drift and improve deposition. In other words, a Slider and rotary atomizer do not appear to be a workable combination, thus the CP-11TT nozzle.

At this point, ADAMA, is working on certification in Brazil. In Brazil, Sliders cannot simply be bolted on to an aircraft and be a legal installation. Brazil’s FAA, ANAC, must certify. In any case, it will be interesting to monitor the future of this unique way of spraying for an agricultural aircraft.

Until next month,

Keep turning…

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