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3 secrets to sprayer care

No matter the size or the model of your sprayer, these basic steps will keep it in operating condition.

Elizabeth Hodges, Staff Writer

May 23, 2024

3 Min Read
Sprayer in field
SPRAY FOR ACCURACY: Taking the extra time to make sure the sprayer is properly cleaned out and nozzles are replaced can help prevent problems in the field. Elizabeth Hodges

It does not take the latest and greatest sprayer technology to make sure weeds are under control in the field. But there are secrets to sprayer care, no matter what model or brand you are using.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when getting the sprayer back into the field is to practice proper system cleanout, nozzle repair and field awareness when spraying. Here are three tips:

1. Proper system cleanout. It is essential to accomplish a thorough cleanout between chemicals when spraying fields. But looking at what cleaning agent is used can be a critical factor.

“It used to be common to put ammonia in for cleaning, but that does not really cut it anymore for a lot of modern chemistries,” says Tyler Fredrick, assistant farm manager at the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center and primary sprayer operator. “It is essential to use a commercial tank cleaner product that will do a better job of cleaning the system out.”

Buildup can also occur in the sprayer booms. However, using a recirculation system can be helpful to help prevent chemical buildup. But the order of the chemicals mixed is also important.

“If you do not mix the chemicals in the right order when blending, it can create sludge in the system,” says Joe Luck, University of Nebraska professor of biological systems engineering and Extension specialist for precision agriculture.

2. Timely nozzle repair. “A lot of the time, technology is not the problem. It is just the little things like having a filter getting stopped up, and the nozzle becomes plugged,” Luck says. “The hard part is that sometimes you cannot see it.”

Because of the difficulty of detection, it is recommended to check the filters and nozzles to make sure that the treatment can be applied effectively.

It is also important to check the valves that turn the nozzles on and off in real time.

“Valves have really small holes in them, so it is a good idea to take those off and clean those out every once in a while,” Luck adds.

3. Technology to assist in the field. Height sensors can be a small addition to the sprayer to get a more accurate application in the field.

“It detects the height between the ground or the crop from the sprayer boom and trying to keep the boom from hitting anything in the field,” Luck says.

With this technology, the boom does not move too high, so if producers are spraying when there is some wind, it keeps the product close to the ground to reduce drift.

In addition to the height sensors, the valves also can increase and decrease the flow coming out of the nozzle.

“If the sprayer were to make a big turn out in the field, the boom might spray backward to where it has already sprayed before,” Luck explains.

Turn compensation when making turns in the field can also be accounted for with these valves.

“The furthest part of the boom is getting a low application rate because it is moving faster where the inside of the boom is moving slower,” Luck says.

Being able to account for these small tips and tricks can help producers prevent problems in the field and spray a more even application.

To learn more from Luck and Fredrick check out this video:

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Hodges

Staff Writer, Farm Progress

Growing up on a third-generation purebred Berkshire hog operation, Elizabeth Hodges of Julian, Neb., credits her farm background as showing her what it takes to be involved in the ag industry. She began her journalism career while in high school, reporting on producer progress for the Midwest Messenger newspaper.

While a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she became a Husker Harvest Days intern at Nebraska Farmer in 2022. The next year, she was hired full time as a staff writer for Farm Progress. She plans to graduate in 2024 with a double major in ag and environmental sciences communications, as well as animal science.

Being on the 2022 Meat Judging team at UNL led her to be on the 2023 Livestock Judging team, where she saw all aspects of the livestock industry. She is also in Block and Bridle and has held different leadership positions within the club.

Hodges’ father, Michael, raises hogs, and her mother, Christy, is an ag education teacher and FFA advisor at Johnson County Central. Hodges is the oldest sibling of four.

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