27 Apr Unidentified Cause of Spray Damage – Chick Peas
ARC was appointed by the insurers of a spraying contractor to investigate a claim from a grower that a spray operation carried out by the insured had damaged a chick pea crop. It was not clear whether any damage had actually occurred to the crop and the insured was adamant that nothing that he did or didn’t do could have caused any damage to the subject crop.
What we did
The matter was difficult from the start because of the insistence of the claimant that he had incurred a loss and the equal insistence of the insured that the spraying operation he undertook did not cause any damage. The position of both claimant and insured could be supported because there was no discernible. In addition, the soil type and topography of the paddock meant that the yields in different areas were very variable.
The task was made more difficult by the fact that the field had been sprayed in a non-systematic way. Usually a spray unit will follow the same pattern when spraying a particular field. For example, up and down like laps being swum in a swimming pool. This spraying operation was done with no discernible pattern.
We undertook detailed investigations into all the relevant details in the matter such as paddock history, plant and soil analysis, past spraying history of the insured, the possibility of product contamination and others. Despite these investigations, no cause of damage could be established nor was it clear that a loss has actually been incurred. While the matter was at an impasse, as the claimant had not been able to prove his loss, the feeling amongst the other parties was that no loss had occurred.
To try and break the impasse, ARC identified a specialist in precision agriculture who was provided with all the data from the electronic data logs on both the spray rig and the header that harvested the paddocks. This specialist had access to data editing, data cleaning and other proprietary software that could be used to analyse the data from the spray rig and header in more detail than had previously been possible.
The analysis conducted by the precision agriculture specialist was able to identify a pattern of damage that other analysis could not. What was found was that where a yield reduction had occurred, it was greatest nearest the point where the spray rig was re-filling. The further the spray rig travelled from the re-filling point, the less the yield reduction was until a point was reached where no further reduction in yield occurred. While the cause of this observed pattern of damage could not be identified, there was no doubt that a yield reduction had occurred and the cause of it was the spraying operation.
The other valuable result from the analysis was that there were significant areas of the field that were found to be unaffected. Being able to prove this simplified the quantification methodology and reduced the quantum of the claim by approximately 50%.
From being at a complete impasse and with litigation imminent, ARC was able to identify and organise further analysis which provided sufficient evidence to negotiate a settlement that was accepted by all parties.