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
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
FungicidesSyngenta Suing Willowood Over Azoxystrobin Fungicide
March 27, 2015
Syngenta announced today that it has sued agrochemical maker Willowood, LLC., for patent and copyright infringement, as well as unfair Read More
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
Eric SfiligojSeed Treatment Stays Necessary
March 20, 2015
Grower-customers looking to scale back spending in 2015 won’t consider seed treatment, say experts. Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safet…
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
ManagementRetail Week: Precision survey, a technology acquisition…
March 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sflilgoj discuss recent travel, the upcoming precision adoption survey, and an unusual sighting at a Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Launching TerraGrow Soil Inoculant
March 20, 2015
TerraGrow is a blend of beneficial bacterial and fungal spores and nutrients carefully designed to promote healthier soil and crops. Read More
Winter Wheat
AdjuvantsMax Systems Debuts New Adjuvant NanoRevolution 2.0
March 18, 2015
Added to a tank mix of glyphosate at the conservative rate of two to four ounces per acre, NanoRevolution 2.0 has proven effective in killing resistant weed species that had already had up to two applications of the leading glyphosate product. Read More
Photo credit: United Soybean Board/the Soybean Checkoff
Seed/BiotechAgnition Launches Microbial Catalyst Seed Treatment
March 18, 2015
Agnition it has launched Commence for Soybeans, a microbial catalyst seed treatment for soybeans that stimulates microbial activity for healthier soil and a superior growth environment. Read More
4R Certified, Nutrient Stewardship Council,
StewardshipTyler Grain & Fertilizer Now 4R Certified
March 18, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Tyler Grain & Fertilizer Co. in Smithville, OH, has been added to Read More