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What are the advantages and disadvantages of area treatment?

Area treatment

Written by Michael Visser | Last update: 29-04-2020

Crop protection products can be applied using different techniques. One of these techniques is area treatment – a low volume technique – in which the product is atomized using a Pulsfog or an Enbar LVM. But what are actually the advantages and disadvantages of area treatment compared to high volume techniques (spraying with a spray gun, horizontal spray boom or vertical spray mast)? Our specialist gives an explanation in this article.

Advantages of area treatment

Area treatment has a number of advantages: there is less visible residue, less labour is required and it consumes less water.

No visible residue

Crop protection products leave a visible or invisible residue on the crop. Consumption crops are subject to a legal standard (MRL: Maximum Residue Limit), so that people do not ingest harmful quantities when consumed. Products that leave a visible residue on the crop (on the fruit, flower or leaves) reduce the (ornamental) value. It is therefore important that this residue is as small as possible. The advantage of area treatment is that it leaves little or no visible residue. On the other hand, visible residues do sometimes occur when crop protection products are sprayed.

Less labour required

Another advantage of area treatment is that the products can be distributed over a large surface area in a relatively short period of time. In area treatment, the droplets ‘float’ through the area before they swirl down. Due to the large amount of droplets floating through the area, you get a better coverage of the surface of plant parts. Because you don't have to cover every path or hood, this requires less labour than spraying. However, area treatment does not allow for local treatment (unlike spraying), so a pest or disease cannot be controlled locally.

Less water usage

Area treatment uses relatively little water compared to spraying. Water is the carrier – also known as the transporter – of the product. Because little water is used in area treatment, the crop dries quickly, which considerably reduces the risk of fungal infestation. Area treatment is not suitable for the application of (local) systemic products. These products must be liquid to be absorbed. For this type of products, the small droplets dry too quickly.

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Disadvantages of area treatment

However, area treatment also has a number of disadvantages: for example, crop protection products only end up on the top of the leaf, area treatment is not suitable for all types of crop protection products and during area treatment the greenhouse must be closed.

Product only reaches the top of the leaf

By using the Pulsfog or an Enbar LVM, the crop protection product is atomized, after which the small droplets settle on the crop. As a result, the product only ends up on the top of the leaf. Pests on the underside of the leaf (such as white fly larvae or young caterpillars) cannot be combated completely with area treatment.  

Differences in products

Crop protection products are subdivided in different types of products, each with a different effect. Area treatment is suitable for products that have a contact effect (fungicide/insecticide). An area treatment with systemic and/or translaminar products is not possible because the smaller droplets dry quickly and the product does not have time to retract into the plant.

Short term vs. long term

In addition to a systemic effect, a product can also have a direct contact effect. If these products are applied via an area treatment, the organisms that have not been killed by direct contact are later exposed to too low concentrations in the plant. This fosters resistance. In the short term, the advantage of the more labour-friendly area treatment must not lead to the development of resistance, which means that products no longer work.

Closed greenhouse

An area treatment with a Pulsfog or an Enbar LVM can only take place in a closed greenhouse with reasonably calm weather, so that the crop protection product does not end up outside the greenhouse, or is poorly distributed in the greenhouse area. In addition, it is important that the greenhouse remains closed for a number of hours before and after the treatment. This is a disadvantage in summer, because the vents often have to be open for climate reasons. 

Temperature is another factor you have to keep under control to prevent condensation. Condensation occurs because on the one hand the plant is still warm at the end of the day and on the other hand the room temperature drops faster than the plant temperature at sunset. Condensation causes dripping to leaf edges or low parts of a crop. During dripping, droplets that have not yet dried up can be carried along, causing a too high concentration of the product, which can cause damage. Guttation can also cause dripping. During guttation, the root pressure is higher than the plant can keep up with evaporation. The water that is "sweated out" in case of overpressure also causes dripping. 


In addition, no people are allowed in the greenhouse during an area treatment. Since people are present in the greenhouse during working days, this is often being done in the evening or the weekend. On the other hand, in large companies spraying is often done when people are present in the greenhouse, but in other parts of the greenhouse. Always keep enough distance and stick to the re-entry time stated on the label.  


In order to use the Enbar LVM, you need fans that distribute the mist evenly through the crop. It is important to circulate the air before and after area treatment. After the product has been well distributed in the greenhouse, we switch off the fans and the product has to descend on or be absorbed by the plant. This takes some time. If (extra) fans have to be purchased, this will result in a larger investment. On the other hand, it does save on labour costs.

Alternating delivery techniques

Area treatment therefore has advantages and disadvantages. Our advice? Alternate between the different application techniques and crop protection products. In this way you combine the advantages of the techniques, so that you can ultimately achieve the best result: both in terms of control and labour savings.

More information

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Michael VisserAbout Michael Visser

Michael Visser, a mechanisation product specialist, has been working with Royal Brinkman since 2001. Owing to his experience in the horticulture sector, he knows everything about what keeps growers busy concerning technology. Michael also frequently visits customers and advises growers about machines, installations and HD-pumps. "Horticulture is a very interesting and challenging sector that is always developing. And, as a result, no day is the same as another, which is something that makes my work very pleasant and varied."

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