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Get ready to spray

Jeff Caldwell 04/06/2011 @ 11:19am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Is your sprayer ready to roll for this spring?

Now more than ever, having a well-maintained sprayer can make a big difference to your per-acre profit this year, Higher pesticide costs and new chemicals designed to be used in lower doses make accurate application more important than ever, according to Ohio State University (OSU) Extension spray application specialist Erdal Ozkan.

"Higher pesticide costs and new chemicals designed to be used in lower doses make accurate application more important than ever," Ozkan says. "There is no better time than early spring to take a closer look at your sprayer."

Here's a list of things to check before you get ready to put on your first applications, according to Ozkan:

  • Double-check your sprayer for mechanical problems before you start using it.  You won’t have time to do this when planting is in full swing.
  • Clean the sprayer tank thoroughly and make sure nozzle filters are clean.
  • Clean spray nozzles, check their flow rates, and replace the ones that are spraying more than 10 percent of the original output.
  • Check the agitator in the tank to make sure it’s working properly.
  • Run water through the spray system to make sure everything is working properly
  • Find out if the sprayer is delivering the proper application rate (gallons per acre).  

Above all, Ozkan adds, make sure your sprayer's calibrated so you're applying the right rate. "Calibration, perhaps more than anything else, will have a direct impact on achieving effective pest control and the cost of crop production," he says. "While applying too little pesticide may result in ineffective pest control, too much pesticide wastes money, may damage the crop and increases the potential risk of contaminating ground water and environment."

Calibration's not the only way to make sure you're putting out the right applications. Mixing ingredients of a spray mix -- herbicides, fungicides, adjuvants, etc. -- can have disastrous consequences if done wrong. And, the cost of having a sprayer sidelined for hours or days while you clean out booms and nozzles can add up quickly.

That's why Precision Laboratories earlier this year introduced a new mobile application for Apple iPhones, iPods and iPads called Mix Tank. The free application allows you to choose the chemicals you're adding to an application, then show you the proper mixing order, thereby preventing chemical reactions that can yield solidification and other time-robbing problems.

"The purpose is to eliminate costly mixing errors and provide the right mixing orders," says Precision Laboratories marketing specialist Daniel Ori. "It reduces compatibility problems, decreases lost spraying time and eliminates cross-contamination problems."

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