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Getting Ready for Spring

Sprayers remain an important tool on most farms, when was the last time you calibrated? It's easier now.

Sprayer calibration. Just the very mention of that dreaded task probably makes you want to click on something else. Stay with me gentle reader as we look at ways technology has conspired in your favor to make this odious task more simple, and faster.

Years ago I worked for a public relations firm - many of my editor friends may be shocked - and we worked on a project with Montana State University on the concept of sprayer calibration. This was the advent of a host of new postemergence crop protection products and at the time farmers had a pretty sorry inventory of equipment out there. Sometimes the sprayer was worth less than the value of the product it carried to the field.

Thankfully times have changed. But the need for calibration hasn't gone away. Instead, it may be more important than ever. You see, in the ensuing 25 years since I first did that calibration work we've reduced the amount of active ingredient applied from quarts per acre to ounces, and to make that work (really, 1.5 ounces over 44,000 square feet!) your sprayer has to be very accurate.

Yet, you don't want to drag a beaker and a stop watch to the field, run the sprayer with water and do the timed measurements to make the right calibration. Guess what, those days are essentially over as new hand-held device become available.

Last week, we highlighted the AE50 Award winners from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Tucked into that list is the Spot On Sprayer Calibrator which allows you to place the device below a tank spraying water and get a measurement of flow rates and sprayer pressures quickly and easily. No stop watch.

Spot On's product is a clear plastic cylinder with a controller on the front and it can measure flow rates up to 1 gallon per minute. The company offers a larger liquid fertilizer unit that can measure at flow rates from 1 to 4 gpm. It's a time saver for sure.

Spot On isn't the only player in this market. In addition, Wilger - the spray boom makers - have the Quick Calibrator which also makes spray nozzle calibration simple and easy. The quick calibrator can measure in gallons per minute or gallons per acre - you decide. Just fire up the sprayer and place the Quick Calibrator receptor cup under the nozzle, the unit does the rest.

Learn more about these products by visiting each company's Web site: SpotOn Sprayer Calibrator and Wilger.

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