Engineering solutions applied to pneumatic drills to reduce losses of dust from dressed seeds


Neonicotinoid insecticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam) and fipronil for maize (Zea mays L.) seed dressing have been claimed to play a role in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) decline, since pneumatic precision drills used for sowing contribute to the dispersion of the abrasion dust produced by dressed seeds. The active ingredients (a.i.) can contaminate the environment and can lead to the exposure of operators and bystanders during sowing operations. To achieve a significant reduction of dust drift and to enhance the safety for the operators, CRA-ING studied and developed novel engineering solutions applicable to drills, based on an air-recycling/filtering system. In the first system, the air’s excess is forced outward through suitable filters placed on the modified lid of the seed hopper. It can be easily applied to commercial drills in use. The second system was specifically designed for new drills. It consists of a collector duct that receives the air expelled from the vacuum fan opening, creating constant pressure conditions. Part of the air is recycled into the seed hoppers, as the air in excess is directed outward through a single main filter. A third system, based on the second one, entails the use of an electrostatic filter to improve its efficiency. Moreover, to avoid the operator’s exposure to the dust during the seed loading, we show an integrated solution based on the use of a modified pre-charged plastic container that replace the drill’s hoppers. Preliminary tests ascertained the regular seed distribution with the drills equipped with the prototypes. Then, trials were carried out at fixed point and in field, for detecting the amounts of the drifted a.i., using commercial maize seed dressed with thiamethoxam, imidacloprid, clothianidin and fipronil. The test results show powder and a.i. drift reductions up to a maximum of 94.5% measured at ground level (with fipronil as a.i.) as a consequence of the use of the prototypes.



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dust drift, precision seeder, neonicotinoids, dressed maize.
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How to Cite
Pochi, D., Biocca, M., Brannetti, G., Fanigliulo, R., Gallo, P., Grilli, R., Montanari, S., & Pulcini, P. (2013). Engineering solutions applied to pneumatic drills to reduce losses of dust from dressed seeds. Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 44(s2).