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13 smart sprayer tips

02/17/2012 @ 9:32am

Spring is right around the corner, and preparing equipment for the upcoming season can pay dividends, especially if you own a sprayer.

“It wasn't long ago that sprayers were a niche product,” says Cory Venable, John Deere product manager. “Now they have become an essential product for effective crop production. More and more producers are seeing the value and return on investment that a self-propelled sprayer offers. And as we continue to watch farm size grow, the economics of ownership makes more sense.”

Disease ignites trend

Mark Sharitz of AGCO Application Equipment agrees. He says the trend of farmers owning their own sprayers really began in 2005 with increased awareness of the Asian soybean rust phenomenon.

“This disease worked its way north from the Mississippi Delta, propelled, in part, by a couple of major hurricanes that year, and farmers were panicked. With timely fungicide applications necessary to bring soybean rust under control, there were not enough sprayers to go around,” he says. “Farmers did not want to be put in a position to have to wait.”

Growers who purchased a sprayer quickly learned it gave them some insurance against soybean rust, but it also offered other benefits.

“They learned that owning a sprayer enabled them to have more control over which crop-protection products were used, when they were applied, and even where they were purchased,” says Sharitz.

There's another factor that has accelerated the trend toward more on-farm sprayers: Today's machines are much easier to operate than their predecessors.

“Ten years ago, you really had to have special training to drive and operate one efficiently,” says Sharitz. “They were much more complicated than they are today. It was almost like flying an airplane. Now, with guidance systems and sophisticated controls and ease of operation, it doesn't take long for you to get up to speed on how to use the unit.”

No matter what color sprayer you purchase, all manufacturers have the same end goal: Making sure the sprayer is doing the appropriate job to enhance yields and to protect crops. Your goal is to make sure your sprayer is in top condition to tackle the season ahead.

Prep time

Because their four Hagie sprayers cover 60,000 acres a year, Erich Hasler knows being proactive is paramount. “When it comes time to look at maintenance and to get them ready for spring, we want machines that are as sound as possible, especially since we're covering so many acres,” says the Atlanta, Indiana, seed corn and soybean grower.

For Hasler, a chemical/fertilizer manager for Beck's Hybrids, sprayer preparation begins in mid-December with top-to-bottom machine inspection. “We go through and check fluids and filters,” he notes. “We also look at the mechanics of the sprayers to make sure bushings aren't out of whack and there are no cracks or places that are worn.”

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