Frequent, Proper Sprayer Calibration Saves Money, Pesticides

Spring is a good time for corn and soybean growers to calibrate sprayers to avoid wasting money and applying the wrong amount of pesticides, says an Ohio State University agricultural engineer.

Approximately 66-77% of all growers who spray pesticides spray too much or too little, which not only can waste money, but also cause crop losses, said Erdal Ozkan.

He said growers need to inspect sprayers for proper gallons-per-acre application rates, and calibrate them early and often.

“If you don’t calibrate your sprayer frequently, it’s as if you were driving your car with a speedometer that doesn’t work,” said Ozkan, who also is a professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering and a researcher with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. “You assume you know what speed you are traveling at from habit, but you are not really sure. The problem with a sprayer is that nozzles wear out with use, application rates change with different field conditions, and traveling speeds also change. Many growers don’t take these factors into account.”

Data from Ohio and other states indicates that only one out of every three or four applicators applies chemicals at rates that are within five percent(plus or minus) of the intended rates. Application rates within plus or minus five percent represent the accuracy level recommended by the USDA and the U.S. EPA.

Surveys also indicate that 67% of applicators who calibrated their equipment before every spray application had application errors below five percent, Ozkan said. Conversely, only five percent of applicators who calibrated their equipment less than once a year achieved the same degree of accuracy.

Ozkan said growers should calibrate their sprayers in early spring and every time operating conditions (different ground surfaces, for example) change or a different type of chemical is to be used.

“Frequent calibration is even more important with liquid applications because nozzles wear out with use, increasing the flow rate and leading to overuse of chemicals, which impacts growers’ budgets and can lead to crop damage and contamination of groundwater and the environment,” Ozkan explained.

Calibrating a boom sprayer, he said, usually doesn’t take more than 30 minutes, and only requires three tools: a watch showing seconds, a tape measure and a jar that measures ounces. The ultimate goal is to calculate the actual rate of application in gallons per acre to check for accuracy and make adjustments as needed.

Learn how to make these adjustments and find additional information about sprayer calibration here.

Leave a Reply

Sprayers Stories
SprayersHooded Sprayers Help Minimize Spray Drift
May 15, 2014
Willmar Fabrica­tion's hooded sprayers have the potential to minimize pesticide drift, especially when combined with other drift reduction technologies, such as drift retardant adjuvants or low-drift nozzles. Read More
Sprayers14 Self-Propelled Sprayers For 2014
January 16, 2014
Ag retailers looking for new self-propelled sprayers will have these models to choose from this year. Read More
Case IH 2240 Patriot Sprayer
SprayersNew Patriot Sprayer Wins 2013 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year
January 13, 2014
Case IH’s new Patriot 2240 self-propelled sprayer has been named one of the winners of the 2013 CropLife IRON Product of the Year trophy. Read More
EquipmentHagie Launching Redesigned STS Sprayers In 2014
December 11, 2013
The new 2014 STS self-propelled sprayer product line features a new drive system, cab design, engine and solution system for optimal operator efficiency, safety and performance. Read More
Top 100 Articles
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
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed 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
Latest News
StewardshipTFI Announces Renewed Financial Commitment To Fertilize…
April 24, 2015
Today, The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) President Chris Jahn announced that TFI and over 100 partners will more than double existing Read More
Industry NewsMACA Names New Ambassador Coordinator
April 23, 2015
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has named Michelle Kilper as its new Ambassador Coordinator. Michelle is a graduate of Read More
ManagementAg Retailer’s Role In Local Policy Making; Raising The …
April 23, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review their recent travels, precision ag efforts in Washington, DC, and the role of Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Precision AgIn-Cab Computing 2015: Connectivity, Compatibility Take…
April 23, 2015
In terms of in-cab computing solutions for the agriculture market, companies like Case IH, Topcon, Trimble, John Deere and Raven Read More
USDA
StewardshipUSDA Outlines Building Blocks For Climate Smart Agricul…
April 23, 2015
Today, the USDA has announced a comprehensive and detailed approach to support farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners in their Read More
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Welcomes New Territory Sales Manager
April 23, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of Kaitlyn Acaster to the Canadian sales team. Acaster will fill the Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Opens New Research Greenhouse
April 23, 2015
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a leading provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture, turf Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Acquires Taxon Biosciences
April 23, 2015
DuPont has agreed to acquire Taxon Biosciences, Inc., a leading microbiome discovery company. This acquisition will build on DuPont’s in-house capabilities Read More
Farmer on tablet
ManagementStudy: Consumers Don’t Care If U.S. Farmers Feed …
April 23, 2015
“We’re feeding the world” is a mantra often used by those involved in farming and food to build support for Read More
Industry NewsCorporate Responsibility Magazine Names Monsanto One Of…
April 22, 2015
Corporate Responsibility Magazine (CR Magazine) named Monsanto Co. to its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2015. This is the Read More
FertilizerSpring Nitrogen Management: Form And Timing
April 22, 2015
Most corn producers have planned their spring nitrogen program for 2015, and many have already started to implement their program. Read More
FMC 3Rive 3D
Industry NewsFMC Corp. Completes Acquisition Of Cheminova
April 22, 2015
FMC Corp. has completed the closing of its acquisition of Cheminova A/S, a multinational crop protection company based in Denmark Read More
SoftwareSyngenta Expands AgriEdge Excelsior Nationwide For 2015
April 22, 2015
Growers across the country can now take the guesswork out of improving their farm’s production, land value, farm stewardship and Read More
Cornfield near Sioux City Iowa
HerbicidesU.S. Regulators May Start Testing Food For Glyphosate R…
April 21, 2015
U.S. regulators may start testing food products for residues of the world’s most widely used herbicide, EPA told Reuters’ Carey Read More
FungicidesBRANDT Adds Zonix Biofungicide To Portfolio
April 21, 2015
BRANDT has added Zonix biofungicide to its rapidly expanding line of organic and sustainable products. Zonix is a contact fungicide that Read More
ManagementMissouri Experts: Spring Planting Slow Start Won’…
April 20, 2015
In the first of the agronomy teleconferences with Extension specialists, University of Missouri Extension climatologist Pat Guinan said the slow Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
Industry NewsCooperative CHS Reports Net Income Of $471.5 Million Fo…
April 20, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has announced company net income Read More
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More