4Ry, USDA, Texas A&M AgriLife to develop innovative spraying technology for cattle fever ticks

by Laura Muntean, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

A cattle fever tick after feeding. Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

A cattle fever tick after feeding. Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

4Ry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research have signed a collaborative research agreement to develop a means to more efficiently and effectively spray cattle and kill cattle fever ticks, according to a 4Ry Inc. announcement.

Cattle fever ticks are vectors of pathogens causing bovine babesiosis, also known as cattle tick fever, and are the focus of the U.S. Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program.

Pete Teel, Ph.D., AgriLife Research entomologist, regents professor and interim department head, Department of Entomology, College Station, will lead the project and provide administrative guidance. Field testing will be conducted by AgriLife Research and USDA-ARS at the USDA-ARS Cattle Fever Tick Research Laboratory in Edinburg.

The project will adapt 4Ry’s Charge Injected Precision Spraying, ChIPS, for conductive fluids. Many cattle pesticides are water-based, which makes them conductive.

Arnold Kelly, Ph.D., 4Rry’s chief technology officer and co-founder, will modify their 4Ry’s patented Spray Triode Atomizer, the heart of the ChIPS system.

Meeting all the project milestones will document that the ChIPS system allows for a more complete and targeted coverage of cattle with fewer environmental and operator health hazards. Charged spray droplets are attracted to the cow and thoroughly coat all areas with little aerosol drift or overspray. By reducing the amount of fluid sprayed and wasted, ChIPS more efficiently covers cattle, generates substantial cost savings, and reduces health and environmental risks.

“Successful development of our sprayer for conductive fluids will allow ranchers to integrate this technology for sustainable eradication of the invasive fever ticks that cost the cattle industry millions of dollars before they were eliminated from the U.S.,” said David Bird, 4Ry’s chief executive officer. “The tick problem is particularly bad in South Texas counties that border Mexico. Our modified sprayer will also improve the management of other livestock pests, so it will be welcomed wherever those pests are found in association with cattle production.”

“Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service have a long history of dedicated joint research efforts in support of the U.S. cattle industry and the regulatory agencies responsible for the U.S. Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program,” Teel said. “The opportunity to collaborate with 4Ry Inc. on the development and application of this new technology could significantly improve how cattle receive acaricide treatment to prevent the re-establishment of cattle fever ticks in the U.S.”

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