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Picking the right crop protection equipment

Both farmers and homeowners meet with confusion when making decisions about crop protection equipment. Whether it's field crops or ornamentals, it's important to select the right equipment to apply products intended to control bugs, diseases, and weeds and to apply fertilizers, says Robert Seay, Benton County Extension staff chair with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

Some products are granular and the device used must measure a recommended amount per acre or per 100 square foot, he said. Factory settings are good, but require trial and error once you get on site.

Most other products use water as the carrier. In such cases, the equipment must measure in gallons per acre or ounces per 100 square feet. An exception is the application of products, usually for lawn and garden, where a recommended dilution is applied in a “spray-to-wet” pattern. In this case, foliage is treated until wet and you move along.

Spray equipment of any size usually requires a tank for holding volume and for transport, spray tips to meter output — which can be mounted on a boom, head, or at the end of a wand — and a pressure regulator and bypass valve.

“Booms are used for making precise applications and allow spray to be released closer to the ground, which reduces the risk of drift,” Seay said.

Spray tips can be selected based on the amount of water volume needed and to alter nozzle spacing along the boom. However, when used on uneven or sloped surfaces and when working around posts, trees, brush and briars, booms are a pain.

The boom-buster spray tip provides more flexibility when working in the same scenario noted above.

A Seay rule of thumb: “If you can drive the tractor or ATV between or over it, you can spray it with a boom-buster.”

Drift is always an issue when the height of the spray release has to be increased, such as with a boom buster or cluster-nozzle set-up.

“Better spray equipment is now on the market, designed specifically for mounting on, or behind an ATV. Whether spraying small acreages, spot spraying thistle or managing wildlife food plots, ATV equipment now offers more possibilities for impacting crop protection applications.”

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