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Insights from the application industry experts

Decision Tips: Buying a Sprayer for Your Farm
RoGatorIf you have large, open fields and a lot of acres to spray you’ll want to look at longer boom widths like those available on the RoGator. 
SpraCoupeFor small, irregular fields, a 60- or 80-foot boom like you’ll see on many SpraCoupes may be more maneuverable and convenient.

As cropping systems have evolved to less tillage due to more advanced chemicals, so has the iron growers need to efficiently meet today’s production challenges. As a grower reaches the point of adding a sprayer to his equipment line, there are decisions to make on sprayer type, technology, tendering, boom width, tank size and more -- multiple factors which require homework and planning.

“The first thing to look at is your purpose for buying a sprayer. What is the targeted application going to be?” says Arnie Sinclair, AGCO Application Equipment national accounts manager, Jackson, Minn. "Will you use it for burn down and crop application or will you also apply liquid fertilizer? How many acres will you cover per application, per year? What crops will you spray? These are just a few of the things to consider in deciding to buy a sprayer and choosing the sprayer that best fits your needs.”

While there are many factors involved, there are a variety of resources available to help in the decision process.

To help evaluate the financial aspects of owning a sprayer, Terry Kastens and Kevin Dhuyvetter of Kansas State University’s ag economics department have put together an “Own Sprayer” spreadsheet model. Their model examines the following variables in evaluating a sprayer.

  • Sprayer's class, age & accumulated hours at the time of purchase
  • Sprayer's expected purchase price — dollar amount expected to be paid, not factoring a trade-in.
  • Sprayer's market price — determines a number of other costs, including a new equivalent price used to determine accumulated repair costs over time and thus annual repair costs. It also initializes the market value series that determines annual depreciation, opportunity interest costs and property tax/insurance/shelter costs.

It’s available under Decision Making Tools, “Buy Sprayer” at

Choosing the right machine

Your local RoGator application equipment dealer is also a good resource during the decision process. Most are equipped with a computer-based decision aid to help you select the right sprayer for your operation.

Thinking through your farm’s needs before visiting the local dealer is a good place to start. Sinclair suggests giving some thought to these questions:

  • What type of application will you do? Burn down, pre-emergence, early pre-emergence, crop application, liquid fertilizer, etc.? “If your application rate is 12- to 20-gallons-per-acre compared to 30- to 50-gallons-per-acre for liquid fertilizer, you may be able to save money by purchasing a machine with a 400- to 800-gallon tank vs. a 1,000- to 1,200-gallon tank,” Sinclair explains. “Likewise, if you’re willing to fill a few more times each day, a machine with a smaller tank also may fit your needs and result in a lower investment.” Smaller, lighter machines like the SpraCoupe also reduce the opportunity for compaction and often allow earlier application in damp soil conditions.
  • What type of crops will you spray?
  • What is your row width? “It’s important to be sure the sprayer you buy is suitable for your crops. Mechanical drive sprayers such as the SpraCoupe that have a narrower wheel leg and tire may be a better choice for applying in crops with narrow rows than a hydrostatic drive machine,” Sinclair points out. Pull-type sprayers often don’t provide the ground clearance that self-propelled sprayers may have.
  • What type of fields do you have?
  • How large are your fields?
  • How many acres will you need to cover with each application? “If you have large, open fields and a lot of acres to spray you’ll want to look at longer boom widths like we have on our RoGators. For small, irregular fields, a 60 or 80 foot boom like you’ll see on many SpraCoupes may be more maneuverable and convenient,” he says.

Technology decisions

Technology tools offer the opportunity to improve application efficiency and accuracy, reducing the cost of over application and the potential for crop damage. Many options are available and time and consideration is needed before visiting your dealer.

“If you plan to variable rate apply a product, this will impact the type of controller on the machine,” Sinclair explains. “Will you want manual GPS guidance or assisted-steering? Will you need a chemical inductor to mix chemicals on the sprayer or the tender tank? These are all things to consider.”

How the machine will be moved from field to field and how tendering will be accomplished are other factors impacting the choice in size and type of machine. “Ultimately, the decisions on these many choices will be based on the grower’s individual needs and financial situation,” Sinclair says. “If the budget is limited, going to a smaller sprayer or a used machine are always viable options. Likewise, leasing vs. owning may be more appealing to some growers. There are attractive lease programs available, but it comes down to the grower’s personal preference,” he adds.

Visit your local RoGator or SpraCoupe dealer for assistance selecting the right sprayer for your farming operation as well as details on competitive purchase and leasing programs.