Keeping Sprayers in Top Condition

A successful spraying season can be one of the star players of a bumper crop year. Sprayer maintenance is vital for making it as productive as possible. Mark Duffing, application product manager for Ziegler Ag Equipment, talks about some of the daily tasks farmers should do to keep their sprayers in good condition throughout the season.

“One of the best things is the way you start off. Each morning, walk around your piece of equipment, address any issues that you can see, and perform any routine maintenance that you know needs to be done. This can include greasing your machine, and checking the tire pressure because that can fluctuate between hot and cold conditions that day and night. Look for leaks, bends, and twists in the machine plumbing, and check for leaky nozzles or plugged nozzles, because that can affect your spray patterns and your coverage. Make sure you clear out all the codes on your controller to make sure you have full operation and calibrate your piece of equipment as necessary as you go along. When you’re done, bring the product back into the tank and clean the booms out because this can help prevent your nozzles from plugging because the product can settle.”

He talks about considerations in choosing the right tips and nozzles available for sprayers.

“The first thing you want to do is understand the kind of crops you’re going to spray, the chemical that you’re going to spray, what rate you need to spray, the pressures that you need to spray at, your desired travel speed, and the drift risk. Make sure you read the label of the product and always consult with your agronomist. They’re going to help you get to that right droplet size for the coverage you need for the right efficacy for the product. It’s also important to remember that tips wear out. That’ll affect your pattern and your coverage of the product that you’re spraying. Kind of that rule of thumb is 30,000 acres between a new set of tips.”

One of the biggest concerns is drift, and he talks about what farmers can do to mitigate that.

“Understand what causes it, and kind of follow some basic rules, keeping your nozzles close to the target. Run that boom lower during the early growth stage so there’s not a lot of air between the boom and the crop. Monitor wind and humidity. That’s a big, important piece as part of the spraying. Consider low drift nozzle. Understand the products that you’re spraying. Trust your gut. If the conditions don’t feel right, they probably aren’t, and you probably shouldn’t be out there spraying.”

Following the spray season, he talks about what farmers can do now to ensure the next season is also successful.

“Look over your machine and think about what went well and what didn’t go well throughout the spray season. Before you even wash your machine off at the end of the season, use that dirt and dust to detect leaks that you might not otherwise see when the machine is clean. Identify the things that you need to take care of in the off-season. Pay attention to the kinks in the lines, hose rubbing on the frame, loose or defective clams. Make sure you schedule a preventative maintenance inspection with your local dealer to understand what could be wrong with your machine.”

For more information on taking care of your sprayer, he recommends starting at your local dealer. There are also online forums and Facebook groups as well. Ziegler’s also has a YouTube channel with videos specific to sprayers and applicators.