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Five ways at once

Agriculture.com Staff 02/12/2016 @ 8:01am

You don't need a big, expensive sprayer to be efficient. But it helps to match your sprayer to your operation.

For Roger Groth, Battle Creek, Iowa, efficiency means keeping a fleet of five smaller sprayers running at once -- all going different directions.

Groth and his son, Jerry, have their main operation near Battle Creek in the hills of western Iowa. But their operation is spread over a radius of 25 miles from their home. The sprayers are nothing fancy. They simply run 40-foot booms on the back of five tractors. Fewer sprayers with larger booms might get over the same acres just as quickly, but the smaller booms fit the land they farm.

"We have a lot of short rows, contours, and terraces," Roger Groth says. "We use 16-row planters for corn -- or 40 feet. The sprayers are the same width, so we just follow the planter tracks and spray what we plant."

Their sprayers have foam markers, but they are only used for burndown applications and spraying in no-till. Otherwise, the Groths follow the planter tracks. They plant 31 rows of soybeans with each pass and split two rows out 4 inches to make it easier to see where the sprayer should go.

"It's just a simple way to spray," Groth says. "You don't ever have to count rows. When you spray the same width as the planter, you just follow the planter tracks."

Groth says they bought the first boom from a blacksmith shop. Then one of his employees built the other four based on the first one, so they're all identical. He figures each boom cost about $1,800 to build (including a foamer). Tanks and controls are extra. They run 400- or 500-gallon saddle tanks on each of the tractors.

You don't need a big, expensive sprayer to be efficient. But it helps to match your sprayer to your operation.

Because their operation is so spread out, Groth says, "We send one sprayer to do all the farms in a certain area, and the other sprayers all go their different directions."

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