Maintenance Means Money

Depending on how you put your sprayer away at the close of the 2010 growing season, this will determine how much work you have to do to get that sprayer in tip-top condition for 2011. If you did the proper postseason maintenance and winterized your machine, you’ll be a lot farther down the road.

Your objective should be to have a sprayer that is properly maintained and calibrated in order to avoid expensive downtime during the upcoming season. When you’re racing the clock trying to get fertilizer and crop protection chemicals applied in a timely manner, the last thing you need is to see a small, neglected problem become a big problem.

Once you put the batteries back into the sprayer, pull it out of the shop, spread and lower the booms in the down position, and grease the machine from one end to the other, including the chassis, suspension and booms, paying attention to all fold points. Whether the sprayer has been stored over the winter in a heated shop or not, grease has a tendency to fall out or melt away. Proper and thorough greasing of your sprayer is the first important place to start. Next, make a close inspection of the rig — look at the boom for signs of paint missing and developing rust and examine hoses closely for blisters.

Next, fill the spray tank with clean water, turn on the pump and run it through the system for proper rinse-out through the boom. This is a great time to check that the liquid pump is operating to ensure full range of control and hitting the high-pressure marks. This will help clear out any corrosion you might have from materials applied the previous year.

By far, the biggest mistake that farmers make at the beginning of the season has to do with proper calibration. No matter how well calibrated the sprayer was when you first purchased it, it needs to be closely checked and recalibrated at the beginning of each season. Failure to do this can result in serious misapplications. Check all of the nozzles closely — they don’t last forever. Nozzles do wear and, depending on targeted application rates and the materials that are applied, they can wear quickly and result in misapplication.

Proper clean-out of spray tanks, pumps, hoses and the entire system is also becoming increasingly important as farmers and applicators use more tank mixes and herbicide chemistries with different modes of action in an effort to fight herbicide-resistant weeds and improve overall weed management. This is especially important when switching from PGR herbicides to glyphosate.

Here are some simple guidelines designed to ensure your sprayer is in top condition before heading to the field.

General Inspection Tips

A complete preseason inspection of your machine should be performed to make a list of areas that need repair before the season, and possibly a list of potential problem areas to be watched closely during the season. Fixing small problems when they are found to keep them from becoming a problem that could take the machine out of service.

Keep a log of any areas that may need attention during the season. Without a log, these problems may be forgotten and turn into larger problems.

On your checklist should be the following items:
•  Check oil and fluids.
•  Check tires.
•  Check fuel/water separator.
•  Follow daily greasing schedule.
•  Drain water from air tanks.
•  Inspect suspension.
•  Clean ladder and platform to cab.
•  Check for leaking fluids.
•  Check all air filters, including the primary, charcoal and recirculation filters. Replace if needed.
•  Clean cab windows.

Liquid Systems Tips

The liquid system of your application rig is where your money is made, so peak performance is essential. Here are the items that should be on your maintenance checklist:
•  Disassemble product pump and check for impeller wear and contamination.
•  Verify maximum pressure.
•  Check for leaky seals.
•  Inspect hoses for leaks, brittleness and bulging.
•  Check condition of hose clamps.
•  Ensure that breakaway boom system functions operate properly.
•  Ensure that all boom motions operate properly.
•  Check cylinders for leaks and condition of hoses.
•  Disassemble and clean strainers.
•  Replace damaged mesh.
•  Check section shutoffs for on/off speed and proper operation.

Calibration Procedures

Not having your spray system calibrated can cost you through misapplied fields with over- or under-applications, and by having to re-spray.

There is a direct correlation between the number of calibrations and spray accuracy. According to a University of Nebraska study of farmers, nearly 70% who calibrate more than once a year spray within 5 percent of the correct application rate. This contrasts with 95% who miss the mark when only calibrating once a year or less.

There are several areas on a self-propelled sprayer that have to be addressed for proper calibration: speed; flow meter; and nozzles. Proper calibration of the radar or wheel speed sensors is essential.

Calibration of the vehicle speed will ensure accurate application. A target application rate of 24 ounces per acre with a target application speed of 12 mph will result in an actual application rate of 18 ounces per acre when the actual ground speed is 15 mph. For proper speed calibration, use this equation: old calibration number multiplied by a known measurement, divided by what the console shows equals the new calibration number.

The old calibration number is the speed calibration number that is currently entered into the controller. For known measurement, you need to have a known distance to drive. The minimum distance is 400 feet, but the longer the distance, the more accurate the calibration will be. So a distance of one mile is recommended for the most accurate calibration.

Before driving the known measurement, find the area in the controller that counts up the distance driven. Clear that function and drive your marked distance. Use the number shown for distance driven for this portion of the formula: old calibration number multiplied by the actual distance driven divided by what the console shows.

Flow Meter Calibration

Flow meter calibrations should be done on a regular basis to ensure an accurate application. A flow meter that is out of calibration can cause an over- or under-application of product.

For example, at a target application rate of 24 oz./acre and a target application speed of 12 mph, a flow meter reading 10 percent under actual will cause an over application of 2.4 oz./acre. That means that in just 1,000 acres, you would have over applied 75 quarts of product. This is lost profit.

For flow meter calibration, use the following formula: old calibration number, multiplied by what the console shows, divided by a known measurement. This figure is the new meter calibration.

Nozzle Care

Nozzles may be one of the smallest components on a sprayer, but they are just as important as the engine. Without either one, fields will not get sprayed. Nozzles are important to control the amount (gallons per acre), determine uniformity of application, affect the coverage and influence the drift potential.

Nozzles that are worn by as little as 10% may not give you the coverage and performance you expect. Worn nozzles will affect the amount of chemical applied to an area and change the uniformity of the application, which may lead to poor coverage and having to respray.

It is important to keep track of new and used nozzles — mixing of new and used nozzles will cause an inconsistent spray pattern and application across the spray boom. Use an air compressor to clean nozzle orifices. As a general rule, choose the following droplet types for best performance: “fine” for fungicides and insecticides, “medium” for herbicides and “coarse” for pre-emergence products.

Attention to all of these details will ensure that your sprayer works flawlessly and gives you the best possible return on your equipment investment. Fixing problems when they are small and easy to correct is the best way to ensure your applications are on target and your sprayer will do exactly what it is designed to do.

Leave a Reply

Sprayers Stories

Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
ManagementFlashing Back And Moving Forward On Spray Drift
May 3, 2016
The potential for pesticide drift remains an unavoidable feature of modern agriculture. Here, too, history repeats itself. “When Roundup debuted, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
EquipmentDeere’s Acquisition of Hagie: 3 Things We Learned
March 29, 2016
It seems like the biggest news stories in agriculture always break on a Tuesday. Today John Deere announced it had Read More
EquipmentDeere Acquires Majority Stake In Hagie Manufacturing
March 29, 2016
Deere & Company has entered a joint venture with Hagie Manufacturing, the U.S. market leader in high-clearance sprayers. In the Read More
GVM E-Series cab
SprayersSprayer Cabs: An Inside Look At 11 First-Class Rides In 2016
January 19, 2016
Today’s sprayer cabs offer operators a host of essential equipment — and creature comforts. Features such as LED lighting, panoramic views, Read More
Trending Articles
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More
Eric SfiligojBiotech Corn Drop More Economics Vs. Consumer Rejection
April 18, 2016
Since their introduction into the agricultural marketplace, biotech crops has steadily grown in acreage in the countries of the world Read More
Crop InputsBayer: 5 Reasons We Disagree With Maryland Neonic Ban
April 12, 2016
We’re disappointed that the Maryland legislature chose not to stand up for sound science and the rights of Maryland’s homeowners Read More
Corn
OpinionChallenging Global Economic Conditions Putting More Heat On U.S. Ag Retailers
April 7, 2016
There it is. That vague, slightly sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. Things are getting weird out there. Read More
Latest News
Young Corn Field
Crop NutritionEnhancing In-Season Nitrogen Use Efficiency Is In The D…
May 5, 2016
Spring is here and crops are in the ground. Do you have a plan for your nitrogen during the growing Read More
ID3 Air Induction Flat Spray Nozzle | Lechler
Nozzles2016 Nozzles And Tips Report: Waste Watchers
May 5, 2016
Every year in the spring, ag retailers and their grower-customers prepare for the coming crop season. This involves prepping crop Read More
Industry NewsHELM AGRO Adds New Marketing & Business Development…
May 4, 2016
HELM AGRO US, Inc. has announced the hiring of Troy Bettner as the company’s new Marketing & Business Development Leader. Bettner Read More
Palmer amaranth in soybean stubble
HerbicidesWSSA: Billions In Potential Economic Losses From Uncont…
May 4, 2016
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from Read More
Spray Drift
HerbicidesRoundup Ready Xtend: Silver Linings In Label Delays For…
May 4, 2016
Since 2014, Monsanto has trained more than 20,000 growers and retailers on all aspects of its new dicamba-tolerant system at Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Board Appoints New CEO
May 4, 2016
Syngenta announced today the appointment of J. Erik Fyrwald, currently President and CEO of the U.S. chemistry distribution company Univar Read More
Crop InputsIntrexon Establishes Crop Protection Enterprise
May 4, 2016
Intrexon Corp., a leader in synthetic biology, has announced the formation of Intrexon Crop Protection (ICP), a wholly-owned subsidiary dedicated to Read More
Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
ManagementFlashing Back And Moving Forward On Spray Drift
May 3, 2016
The potential for pesticide drift remains an unavoidable feature of modern agriculture. Here, too, history repeats itself. “When Roundup debuted, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesSurvey Provides Insights On Giant Ragweed In The Corn B…
May 2, 2016
A new survey published in the journal Weed Science offers insights into the distribution and management of giant ragweed, a Read More
Truck dumping dry fertilizer
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics Q&A: Southern States’ Joe Wlod…
May 2, 2016
Joe Wlodkoski, Director of Agronomy Procurement, Fertilizer, Southern States Cooperative, is a 40-plus year fertilizer industry veteran. He is quite Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
West Central Dome structure
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics 2016: All Clear, So Far
May 1, 2016
After a relatively hairy early start to the spring fertilizer movement season with flooding in Louisiana and St. Louis, things Read More
BAICOR
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Utah Specialty Fertilizer Company
April 28, 2016
BRANDT, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty ag products, has acquired a majority interest in BAICOR, L.C. BAICOR, Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Adds Vice President Of Business…
April 28, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences has announced the addition of Marc Treurniet to the plant health and nutrition company’s management team. Treurniet Read More
ManagementBiotech Crops Developments and Millennials
April 28, 2016
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf talk about the latest activities in biotech crops and a major shift in the Read More
Industry NewsNachurs-Alpine, Pathway Biologic Extend Marketing Agree…
April 28, 2016
Nachurs-Alpine Solutions (Marion, OH) and Pathway Biologic (Plant City, FL) announce an extension to their exclusive marketing agreement specific to Read More
MicronutrientsCharah Add Three Warehouses For SUL4R-PLUS Fertilizer
April 28, 2016
Charah, Inc., a total solutions company providing unparalleled service and innovation for the coal-fired power generation industry, announced today that Read More
Spenser Forgey, Yahama Fortix
FungicidesIndiana Farmer Wins Arysta LifeScience FORTIX Fungicide…
April 28, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently presented Spenser Forgey, a grower from Young America, IN, with a new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly Read More