Expert: Selection Of Right Sprayer Nozzle Can Make Or Break Yields

An agricultural tool as small as a thumb can mean the difference between a 25 to 50% increase in yields or a 25 to 50% decline, according to an expert from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Choosing the right type of sprayer nozzle can make a huge difference in how effective pesticides are during a growing season and whether growers have to re-spray their fields or in some cases, replant, said Erdal Ozkan, an agricultural engineering professor and spray technology expert with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.

Not only do farmers have to have a field clear of weeds and pests before they plant, they have to keep that field free of pests and weeds throughout the growing season, Ozkan said. And with the rising cost of pesticides and fertilizers, growers who also want to save money and spray chemicals as efficiently as possible need to make sure they choose the correct spray nozzle for their fields, weather conditions and type of chemicals they apply, he said.

“Farming is a tough business, with a very narrow margin between profit and loss,” Ozkan said. “So anything we can do to widen that margin is a good thing.”

The costs are significant. Farmers spend approximately $4.1 billion on pesticides annually, according to published reports. And large self-propelled sprayers can cost more than $250,000, according to the EPA.

“Growers usually choose pesticides based on their effectiveness, not how much they cost,” Ozkan said. “So one way to find savings in crop production is how we apply pesticides, and choosing the right nozzle is a part of that process.

“The more precise and accurate growers are in their applications, the more growers can have a net savings. For example, if growers are spraying more than the recommended rate, it is a waste of money.”

National surveys of field application results have shown that only about one out of three sprayers are applying pesticides at the recommended rates, while two-thirds are missing the mark by either over- or under-spraying, Ozkan said.

“Doing it right can result in better control and cost savings, and eliminates having to do a second application,” he said. “If you don’t do it right or choose the wrong nozzle, the mistakes won’t show up that day, but sometime later in the growing season when weeds, insects, disease or all of the above start showing up in the crops in particular areas.”

Ozkan said growers can improve the performance of sprayers if they:

  • Always calibrate the equipment with water before spraying to ensure that the sprayer is applying the chemical at the recommended rate. (For details, see the OSU Extension fact sheet “Boom Sprayer Calibration”).
  • Mix chemicals in a small container before pouring them into the sprayer tank to achieve a uniform mix.
  • Determine if the pesticide requires specific adjuvants to provide product efficacy, influence droplet size or solution evaporation rate, reduce drift and to improve deposit and retention on the target.
  • Understand that some pesticides are volatile and may require incorporation into the soil after application.
  • Check sprayer components to ensure they are the right size and type; check the sprayer system for leaks; and check the tank agitation system to ensure that flow to the tank for agitation is effective.
  • Make sure pressure gauge on the sprayer is accurate and operate the sprayer within the pressure range recommended by the nozzle manufacturer.
  • Keep the boom height to a minimum to reduce drift. Setting the proper boom height for a given nozzle spacing is extremely important in achieving proper overlapping. Conventional flat-fan nozzles require 30- to 50% overlapping of adjacent spray patterns. Check catalogs for specific recommendations for different nozzles.
  • Maintain uniform deposition of spray material on the target across the boom. Non-uniform coverage can result from using misaligned or clogged nozzles, nozzles with different fan angles, or from uneven nozzle height across the boom. This can result in streaks, untreated areas or over-application of chemicals.
  • Watch for pattern streaks in the nozzle output, which indicate particles are in the nozzles. Remove them from the nozzle tip using a wooden toothpick or soft object and clean the nozzle filter using a soft brush.
  • Learn more about reducing spray drift as much as possible.
Topics:

Leave a Reply

Nozzles Stories
Nozzles18 Spray Nozzles That Reduce Drift, Optimize Coverage
May 7, 2014
This year’s line-up of tips feature the versatility to handle any spray job. View photos and product descriptions of the latest nozzles on the market in our slideshow. Read More
NozzlesChanging Crop Protection Landscape Demands Drift Advances
May 1, 2014
New weed control systems and growing public pressure mean technologies to minimize drift can’t come fast enough. Read More
Screen captures of Greenleaf Technologies’s mobile application app for agriculture on iPhone showing the home screen and an example result from their Nozzle Calculator called ‘NozzleCalc
NozzlesGreenleaf Launches Free NozzleCalc App
January 16, 2014
Quickly calculate sprayer settings for TurboDrop and AirMix nozzles anywhere with the new Greenleaf Technologies Nozzle Calculator app. Read More
NozzlesTeeJet Technologies Launches New Droplet Size Monitor, Guidance System
July 24, 2013
TeeJet has unveiled two new products: the Sentry 6120 Droplet Size Monitor, which helps operators improve spray applications, and the Matrix Pro GS guidance system with enhanced swath control. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Targets 2,4-D In Latest Report
June 29, 2015
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has struck again. Earlier this year in March, this agency of the Read More