Sprayer Maintenance Helps Improve Efficiency
Any sprayer, old or new, will perform better if you check it over before heading into the field. The best way to ensure success: Review the owner’s manual and follow the recommendations.
“Not reading the manual to fully understand the machine is probably one of the poorest choices you could make,” says Andy Asbury, herbicide trait field specialist.
It’s vital to understand how your sprayer works. Brush up on the electronics, particularly how to set the rate control and change the application rate. Check for cracks or wear. Also consider scheduling a preseason checkup at your equipment dealer.
Never neglect the nozzles
Never overlook sprayer nozzles. The most common causes of inconsistent spray patterns are nozzle tips with different fan angles on the boom, uneven boom heights and clogged nozzles. Follow manufacturer recommendations to select nozzles for the best coverage.
Make sure nozzles are clear. Since all nozzles wear over time, check the spray pattern and volume of each one. It pays to replace nozzles regularly.
Check the boom
Proper spray overlap starts with the proper boom height based on the sprayer’s nozzle spacing. Check both the herbicide label and the nozzle manufacturer’s recommendations to match herbicide application requirements with boom height and nozzle choice.
Get the pressure right
Consistent spray pressure creates consistent application rate, droplet size and spray pattern. Check your sprayer’s pressure. If it’s too low, the spray pattern won’t overlap, causing streaks. Too much pressure increases the number of drift-prone droplets.
Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate
“Applying chemicals with a sprayer that’s not calibrated and operated accurately is a recipe for poor weed control and, in turn, reduced yield,” Asbury says. “Calibrate several times during the application season, not just the first time out.” Make sure the flow meter is spot-on to calculate gallons applied.
Prepare for repairs
During spray season, you can’t afford downtime. Check and restock your inventory of parts like extra nozzle bodies, tips and hose clamps. Gather commonly needed tools – such as a utility knife, pliers, nut driver, wire and zip ties – and keep them in a small toolbox just for the sprayer. Stock up on machine parts like hoses, belts and filters.
In season, keep it clean
A clean sprayer is essential for preventing damage to susceptible crops from herbicide contamination in the spray tank as well as for proper application. Sprayers should be cleaned as soon as possible after use to prevent the formation of deposits of dried spray residue. Don’t let a sprayer sit overnight without cleaning.
“Once nozzles are clogged, it is really tough to bring them back so that they operate like when they were clean and new,” Asbury says.
Postseason, protect your investment
Once application season is over, clean your sprayer inside and out. Go through your sprayer top to bottom before parking it for winter. This helps protect your investment from freeze damage.
Thoroughly drain and clean the entire spray system from pump to hoses. Replace damaged and worn parts to get a jump on spring maintenance. Remove, clean, dry and store nozzles in a dry container. Change fluid and filters. Clean the cab. Lubricate moving parts. Check and disconnect the electrical systems. Remove and store the battery in a heated area. Store the machine inside.