Sprayer Maintenance

Gary Quam, Agronomist, St Charles (218) 689-0947

Well, the spring has sprung and hopefully it will spring again. As I am writing this, the high temperature of today is 50 degrees in May. I think we skipped summer and went straight to fall. However, we still have a lot work to do before we can pull the combines out of the shed. The sprayers need to come out and make sure they are going to operate when the sun decides to poke out from behind the clouds.

The cold damp spring we are having is definitely slowing down the emergence of some of the crops, but this weather is also slowing everyone’s ability to get those sprayers out to put down some pre-emergent chemicals. That being said, when the time is right and the field conditions are “good enough” we MUST make sure that sprayer is not going to miss a beat. By taking a few extra moments before you pull out of the yard, will not only save you time, but also money. So, here are some things to think about when you are going over your sprayers and getting them ready for the field.

  • Leaks are bad: Make sure that sprayer does not leak and that everything is functioning the way it should. This sounds obvious, but the cold winter and water do not really work well together. Check nozzles for clogs, and clean, if possible…otherwise replace.
  • Nozzles: A coarse spray droplets will reduce drifting and create larger droplet size that will lengthen the time it takes for that droplet to dry or evaporate. A coarse droplet will also give the droplet a chance to reach your target that are likely at lower levels of the plant when spraying herbicides. Please check nozzle catalogs for specific recommendations for the different nozzles. Some examples of coarse droplet nozzles include TeeJet’s AI, AIXR, and TTI, and Hypro’s Ultra Low Drift, among others.
  • Speed and Pressure: Consistency is your best friend. Having a constant speed and pressure will maintain droplet size and prevent product from drifting off target. This will also lead to an even coverage and less chance of over applying. Your droplet size will vary with pressure. Higher pressure will typically make smaller or fine droplets. Please refer to a nozzle catalog for optimum pressure and speed for your specific nozzle.
  • Boom Height: The height of the booms is just as important as the chemical being applied. Make sure that the height of the boom is allowing for the nozzles to achieve the correct overlapping spray pattern. A good boom height is about 24 inches above the crop or target. This will vary with your nozzle spacing as well. Always refer back to a nozzle catalog.
  • Calibrate: Check to make sure the sprayer is applying the appropriate amount of product and make sure it is at its peak performance. A simple way is to collect your product from each nozzle. So, find a friend to help you.
  • Spare Parts: Carry extra nozzles, washers, other spare parts and tools required to repair simple problems quickly in the field. Down time and wasted chemical is money lost.
  • Be Safe: Read the chemical label and instructions and follow them. Also, take note of the personal protective equipment and make sure to have it available and USE IT. Become well informed of the specific recommendations for a given pesticide and follow the laws and regulations on the pesticide application.

You are in total control of the weeds in your fields. Make sure you have all you ducks in a row and are ready to spray your fields with little or few glitches. If you have any questions or concerns, please give Progressive Ag Center a call. We are here to help you get the most out of our crops. Good luck in the upcoming weeks and enjoy the warmer weather that is hopefully coming soon.

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