Farm Progress

From nozzle testing to tank cleaning, these tips and technologies target efficient weed control.

Kurt Lawton

June 7, 2018

4 Min Read

No matter what sprayer brand you drive or pull, weed control is all about the right combination of products and the right-sized droplets hitting the weeds/soil—not drifting away or wandering off due to winds or temperature inversion.

If you’re attempting to apply dicamba, you’ve been well schooled to do the right thing and pay strict attention to every detail. And 2018 is a critical year for that tool used postemergence, since EPA will decide that fate of dicamba this winter.

As a refresher, the service team at Apache sprayers have compiled a good list of helpful maintenance tips to make sure your sprayer is ready.

  1. Regular spray tip testing

“Think about how many dollars per acre you are spending on chemical. With the price of chemicals, you want those nozzles to do their jobs. When they get worn, they lose their pattern and you start getting droplets in different places,” according to Apache Sprayers Service Technician and Application Parts Specialist Chris Weaver. “You run the risk of overapplication, spray drift and streaking in the field. The more worn your nozzles get, the worse it is going to be. If you’re spraying herbicide, weeds will be worse in those areas.”

It's best to test each nozzle at least once a season to ensure output at the rated application pressure. More details here.

  1. Save crops with strainer cleaning

Chemical residue left in strainers – whether made from plastic or stainless steel – that aren’t cleaned and well-maintained can enter spraying streams later on when applying a different product, sometimes leading to crop damage that can cut yield potential, Weaver says. Regularly inspecting strainers is the best way to know they’re performing optimally. That includes strainers at T- and Y-joints in the sprayer booms, as well as at the tips. Read more here.

  1. Rinse your sprayer right

Properly rinsing out your sprayer can not only help keep the machine in top operating condition, but also prevent crop damage that can cut yields and add to overall costs.

“Everybody has made mistakes when they haven’t gotten things rinsed out well enough,” said ET Works Senior Application Specialist Jeremy Hurt. “Chemicals and crop input costs right now are really expensive, so it’s not bad to be self-conscious about doing it right. I think Apache Sprayers make this process much easier to do. It’s not as time-consuming and doesn’t involve as many steps.” Check out these six steps.

  1. Replacing cab filters

Simply having a cabin filter system isn’t enough; it’s just as important to take the right steps to ensure its functioning properly, especially during the busiest time of year when farmers are spending a lot of hours in the cab.

When is the best time to change your cabin air filter? “If you start noticing chemical odors in the cab, then it’s time to take a look at that filter and see when it was changed last, because that activated charcoal begins to deactivate as soon as it’s exposed to air. If there aren’t noticeable performance issues, the cabin filter should be changed at least once a year, depending on overall use. More details here.

  1. Don’t forget other filters

When you operate in dry, dusty conditions, filters are an especially important element to keeping your sprayer well-maintained. That’s particularly true considering the cost of the damage poorly maintained filters can cause down the road.

“With modern engines, especially Tier 4, we’re actually doing more filtration than we used to. Filter systems are high-efficiency units, which means we’re going to clean the air better before it gets to the engine,” says Apache Sprayers Senior Application Specialist John Casebolt.

“Those filters tend to become contaminated and plug more quickly, and people who have been running some of the older equipment with older engines and filtration systems aren’t accustomed to checking them as often as they should.” Learn more here.

  1. Efficiency of direct injection

The process of direct injection means the primary tank contains only water, and since mixing happens in-line, there is no chemical actually entering the main tank. The result is less chemical waste, faster, more efficient mixing in the field and quicker clean-out after you’ve gotten the job done.

“Demand has picked up because of potential chemical cross-contamination for different chemicals, especially as weeds are becoming more resistant to one particular chemical or another,” said Apache Sprayers Application Specialist Chris Smith. Get more details here.

  1. Consider pulse-width modulation

The new sprayer innovation, available on every Apache Sprayer through the Raven Hawkeye system, helps operators more efficiently apply chemicals and sustain environmental and crop quality by preventing spray drift.

When facing windy or inclement conditions but a spraying job must be done, the operator typically has to slow down the sprayer and back off application pressure. This is needed to effectively deliver chemical where it needs to without wind catching, taking it elsewhere and inflict damage to other crops or plants. Today’s pulse-width modulation helps operators sustain more consistent field operations at speeds close to, or at the same level as, optimal conditions. Check out more benefits here.

For more details on other sprayer maintenance topics, visit Apache’s blog.

About the Author(s)

Kurt Lawton

Kurt Lawton of Eden Prairie, Minn., is a writer and owner of Stellar Content LLC. He is the former editor of Corn+Soybean Digest, a Farm Progress publication.

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