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Spray better with new mobile app

Jeff Caldwell 03/01/2011 @ 10:24am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

At certain points in the crop season, an idled sprayer can be a nightmare.

That's just what can happen when you mix some combinations of herbicides, fungicides or insecticides in the wrong order. And, when it's go-time, having a sprayer idled for even a few hours while the operator cleans out clogged lines or nozzles can have a big-time price tag.

Preventing just that type of situation was the original goal in mind for the developers behind Mix Tank, a new application for iPhones, iPods and iPads released by Waukegan, Illinois-based Precision Laboratories on Tuesday.

"More and more farmers are making their own chemical applications," says Precision Laboratories vice president Jim Reiss. "We want to help them with those mixing decisions."

The application pulls from a database of more than 700 chemical products from 17 companies, says Precision Laboratories marketing specialist Daniel Ori. They're broken down by category: Herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, adjuvants and foliar nutrition. When opening the application, the user can select up to 4 of the first 3 categories, 3 adjuvants and 2 foliar nutrition products.

Then, once all the products being applied have been selected, the user can see the specific order for mixing, thereby avoiding the reactions that can follow when chemicals are mixed in the wrong order, which can result in crystallized or solidified liquids that can cause sprayer system blockages, breakdowns and valuable time lost in the field.

"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."

An added piece of the application is a sharing function. It allows the application user to share -- via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter among other means -- the chemical mixing order. This could enable a farmer or farm manager to send that mixing order electronically to the sprayer operator if the app can't be used in the field, Ori says.

That latter concern is a common one in a lot of rural areas where smartphone data services fall short. Ori says the Mix Tank app was designed with that circumstance in mind. "It's very light on the data transfer, a benefit in low-service areas," he says.

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