Make Spraying a Specialty

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson May 1, 2018 16:28


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The act of spraying in its most basic terms involves using chemicals to rid your fields of pests.  But in this day and age when issues of cost control and potential damage from drift loom large, it’s important to make spraying a specialty.  I found a couple of resources offering best practices and spraying tips that might help you in your efforts to become an expert.

  • Maintenance:
    • Run water all the way through the unit’s plumbing – from the tank to the booms.  If you’re not sure about your results, flush it again.  And think about those lines you don’t use all the time (top rinse line, recirculation line, inductor line) – always flush them during your machine flush.
    • Iowa State University research recommends allowing 15 minutes with agitation for each tank rinse and at least one minute for lines and other plumbing during each spray rinse.
    • Make sure to address possible chemical  sitting in your hoses’ low or hollow spots, in end caps that can be dead spots holding chemical, and fencerow nozzles which are often forgotten.
    • Replace worn nozzles (often caused by solutions).   10,000 acres is often the breaking point on wear but you can check using other methods as well.  1. Stand behind each nozzle and collect output over a specified period of time.  Calculate the amount of liquid you should collect and check for those same results from each nozzle.  You can also stand behind the boom while it sprays water and look for streaks and skips in patterns coming from the nozzle.  Streaks and skips indicate wear.
    • Monitor your hose condition too.  Chemical can soak into hoses over time and eventually contaminate future applications.
  • Technology (Both high and low):
    • Use zip ties when tying hoses to the boom.
    • READ your labels!
    • Ensure you have a varied selection of nozzles as more and more labels now have specific nozzle requirements.  When mixing two different chemicals that require different nozzles, use the one for the chemical that has a more specific requirement (Glyphosate works in a wide range of nozzles, Cobra doesn’t.  So use the nozzle that works best for Cobra).
    • Mixing order can also be critical in preventing compatibility problems.  There are mixing apps available to guide you through the process ( Mix Tank from Precision Laboratories,  TankMix from DuPont), and there are compatibility kits you can use to take the guesswork out of mixing.
  • Minimizing Drift:
    • Reduce spraying pressures (lower pressures=larger droplet sizes).
    • Use lower spray boom heights and use nozzles that have a 110 degree or more spray angle.
    • Reduce sprayer ground speed to less than 10mph.
    • Use drift retardents.
    • Invest in high-tech sprayers with a pulsing system which seems to reduce drift.
  • Weather Conditions:
    • You do not want to spray with wind speeds over 10mph, and you also want to avoid spraying in calm winds of zero to 2mph.
    • Do not spray when it’s hot and dry as spray droplets will be small, increasing the potential for drift.
    • Be careful about spraying in calm conditions with low cloud cover.  These conditions can produce an inversion, causing chemical drift.
      • Temperature inversions occur when air patterns flip-flop.  During the daytime warm air rises and as evening approaches, cool air moves to the bottom.  This stable environment traps pesticide particles in a suspended air mass that can barely move or travel for miles.  Fog is a visual indicator of a temperature inversion.  Also, smelling something that cannot be seen or hearing a train whistle that isn’t normally heard are inversion signs, and you are more than likely in an inversion when there is no wind.  Now you can actually purchase an inversion tester tool from Innoquest.
  • Safety and Emergency Preparation:
    • A pesticide applicator should always put on protective clothing before trying to stop or contain a spill.
    • Always let neighbors know when you’re spraying and what chemical you’re using.
    • Put together a sprayer emergency kit in case problems arise:
      • Extra hoses, hose clamps and other critical replacement parts
      • Extra set of protective clothing
      • Electrician’s tape/duct tape
      • Washer-headed screws
      • Caulking compound
      • Plastic tarp (to catch spills in case of a leak)
      • Absorbent  materials, plastic bags, and a shovel

There’s a lot of education involved in spraying, and making a commitment to developing your expertise will help you be a better farmer.

-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team



Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson May 1, 2018 16:28
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