Before you step into the field, step into the equipment corner to find the latest on field performance, technology trends, how-to tips and other useful information from application industry experts.
Insights from the application industry experts
It may seem like an elementary concept, but making sure spray equipment is ready and fully prepared before going to the field is the key to keeping the sprayer operating efficiently when it’s time to spray. Paul Haefner, AGCO Application Equipment Division marketing specialist in Jackson, Minn., offers a few suggestions to help optimize your efficiency and keep your sprayer operating at full steam in the field.
- Fix it before you go. Worn or leaky hoses, loose fittings and plugged nozzles are the typical small issues that cause annoying delays. Repair and replace these “little” things to save “big” time in the field.
- Calibrate your sprayer properly. Under application can rob you of valuable time spent to reapply in order to achieve good weed control. Over application will take dollars from your pocket through wasted chemical and possible crop damage or carryover issues. Taking time to calibrate the sprayer the night before or while filling provides time for attention to detail before the “itch” to get into the field takes over.
- Outfit your sprayer with the right spray tips for the job. Be sure to understand the chemical you are using, the droplet size, surface coverage and proper application rate. Then choose the spray tip that will achieve the optimal rate at the groundspeed you plan to travel. The crop protection product label often will include a recommendation.
As a general rule choose the following droplet type for best performance:
• Fine – fungicides and insecticides
• Medium – herbicides
• Coarse – pre-emergent products
Weather conditions, particularly wind and any effects it may have on drift control, should also be taken into consideration. If there is no recommendation for nozzles or spray quality, consider the target, the product and the risk of drift when choosing nozzles.
- Tender in the field. Tendering in the field saves drive time to and from a water source. When choosing a tendering system, make sure the tender tank allows you to fill the sprayer several times before refilling. For example, for a 750-gallon sprayer, a tender tank of 2,500 gallons would allow you to fill the sprayer three times. Being able to transport the sprayer and the tendering equipment at the same time makes it a one-person operation, further improving efficiency. A chemical induction system, which mixes the chemical and water during the filling process, is another time saver, especially compared to top-filling the chemicals. It also reduces the operator’s exposure to chemicals.
Sprayer tank washing takes a long time, especially if the operator is meticulous about the tank and cleaning out the pipeline, filters and nozzles. A built-in tank washer speeds this process and cuts down the amount of water and the amount of rinsate to dispose of. The other major advantage, particularly when used in conjunction with a second tank of clean water, is that rinsing can be done in the field without the need to return to the filling area.
- Embrace technology. Adding a GPS guidance system, either a light bar or assisted steering technology, allows the operator to cover the field more efficiently. Guidance technology helps avoid overlap and reduces skips; saving chemical and cutting the extra time to go back over missed areas. Adding automatic boom section control is especially helpful for eliminating over sprays in headlands and point rows. These technologies also take away the guess work associated with foam markers.
- Direct injection systems. Time spent filling or mixing chemical and completing a full-system wash out can be reduced by fitting a conventional crop sprayer with a direct chemical injection system. Comprised of one to four pumps, the system dispenses the chemical directly into the water stream on the pressure side of the pump at a known rate. The main sprayer tank holds only clean water. The chemical is mixed with the water, either in a manifold or at the main water pump and the resultant mix flows to the booms and nozzles.