Winterizing Your Self-Propelled Sprayer

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SPRA-COUPE 7660, AGCO

Self-propelled sprayers take a beating during the crop growing season, which makes it essential to properly put them away for the winter in such a way that they are ready to go in the spring when any downtime should be avoided at all costs.

This includes proper cleaning of not only the outside of your sprayer, but also the inside liquid systems. If you don’t do a stellar cleaning job inside and out before parking the rig for the winter, then you are asking for all types of problems come the following spring when you can least afford them.

For instance, crop protection chemicals and fertilizers in the sprayer tank and plumbing will impregnate to hoses and soft parts, which not only weakens the overall systems but also heightens the risk of chemical cross contamination when it’s time to start spraying again. Chemical residue also causes parts to flake off, and these flakes get into the plumbing, resulting in plugged nozzles, screens and excessive wear on pump parts.

A full and thorough cleaning of your sprayer inside and out will also surface potential problems that can be dealt with when not in the spray season heat of battle. Leaky hoses, cracks in welding, wear and tear of fittings — these are all signs of mechanical things going wrong and need to be addressed.

At the end of the spray season, examine your spray rig thoroughly and WRITE DOWN any potential problems in the making. When it comes time for repairs in the winter or early spring, refer back to this list. Otherwise, they might be forgotten or overlooked. You just can’t rely on your memory when it comes to keeping track of these types of issues, and it’s much more efficient to deal with them when they are small problems — before they become expensive, time-consuming big problems. This checklist also helps indicate which replacement parts you need to keep on hand for quick repairs during the off-season or spraying season, and they are a good aid to help set machine inspection dates.

Proper Winterizing

Here are some essential guidelines on how to service and store your self-propelled sprayer for the winter:
•     Clean the machine thoroughly to prevent premature rust from fertilizers and crop protection products.
•     Touch up any chips, scratches and rusted areas with the appropriate protective paint.
•     Replace any damaged or missing decals and safety signs.
•     Grease all service points after cleaning.
•     Flush the spray system with water.
•     Clean the liquid system thoroughly.

If You Anticipate Below-Freezing Temperatures:

•  Put an antifreeze solution of 55% propylene glycol and 45% water in the main product tank and rinse tank.
•  Before flushing with propylene glycol and water, put plugs in all boom nozzle bodies except the outside nozzle bodies for each pipe of boom plumbing.
•  Install a hose with a fitting in open-nozzle bodies and run the hose to a container for proper collection and reuse.
•  Open and close the tank sump valve and reload valve several times before operating the liquid pump.
•  Operate engine at idle speed. Make sure the tank valve is open, increase engine speed to 1,500 rpm and engage liquid pump.
•  Turn on controller. Increase or decrease the flow after you have engaged the liquid pump.
•  Open sparger valve completely for several minutes to fully mix antifreeze.
•  Open the by-pass valve to flush the by-pass line. Close by-pass valve.
•  Open the clean water valve to draw antifreeze solution from the rinse tank and properly flush the clean water lines.
•  Open tank rinse valve to flush the tank rinse line. Close the tank rinse valve.
•  If equipped with the chemical eductor option, open chemical eductor valve to flush line going to the eductor. Operate each function of the eductor to properly flush all lines. Close eductor valve.
•  Move boom spray controls on and off a number of times to flush pressure plumbing. Collect solution that comes out of end outlets on boom for use again. Move boom spray controls to off.
•  Disengage the liquid pump. Open the reload valve and let the solution flow into a container until the tank is empty.
•  Pivot down each end of the boom by hand to let the remaining liquid flow out.
•  Leave all valves half open.
•  Open hand rinse valve on safety water tank.
•  Remove product line strainer.
•  Remove boom strainers if installed.
•  Disconnect all hose quick couplers to remove any remaining liquid.
•  Remove plug from bottom of product pump.
•  Remove drain plug from rinse tank.
•  Remove plug from bottom of boom manifolds.
•  Store loose parts (strainers, nozzles, plugs, etc.) in
a labeled container.
•  Open the drain valve on the bottom of the foam
markets and let the liquid flow out.
•  Remover the control console if specified by the
console manufacturer.

Following Guidelines

Whether you are a professional applicator or grower, following these guidelines will ensure that your spray equipment is properly stored for the winter. Then, when the spring spraying season rolls around again, you can focus on things like season fluid changes, simple checks of light operation, tire inflation and controller calibration verifications. You’ll be up and running a lot faster with fewer delays and headaches if you have put your sprayer away properly for the off season.

Haefner is a product specialist for AGCO, based at the company's Jackson, MN, manufacturing facility.

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