Chemical rate controllers
You can “barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it . . .” babbled character Bubba Blue in the movie Forrest Gump regarding the different ways shrimp could be fixed and prepared.
Well, chemical rate controllers are a bit that way. All keep rates constant, whether it be herbicides, fungicides, fertilizer, or manure. Some basic units do just as touted – keep chemical rates constant throughout an application.
Others, though, offer much more. Some adjust multiple chemical rates simultaneously. Others do this and automatically control sprayer sections. Some units link into guidance, field mapping, autosteer, and data-collection systems.
“There are many different ways one can go about it,” says Rob Hoehn, Micro-Trak sales manager. “It all depends on what a farmer’s needs are.”
Basic units adjust chemical rate if speed fluctuates, such as when an operator encounters rough or hilly ground.
“You still find a lot of people asking for basic rate control,” says Jeff Ballard, a product manager for Raven Industries. “They just want something to control spray rates and still be able to manually turn boom switches on or off.”
Such units tend to be lower priced than newer ones. They’re less complicated. They also have a niche in areas where GPS has not caught on or is not applicable, such as in some western states.
“Automatic rate controllers are perfect for those types of situations,” says Marty Heyen, TeeJet business manager for North America.
Increasingly, though, farmers have more options. Some stepped-up versions use existing rate controller cabling and feature manual override switches.
“Manual override is for conditions like a point row or fence line when you know you want that boom off section,” says Ballard. “It gives you some flexibility.”
Units that tie into field mapping can also enhance record keeping.
“Documentation is a big thing with regulations that government has put in place, especially for liquid manure and different types of chemicals,” says Jared Hayes, a John Deere product manager.
Such records are useful as proof in a drift dispute. “You can document wind direction and where you were spraying at that time,” says Chad Huedepohl, Direct Command project manager for AgLeader. Such units can also record data like total gallonage applied and application start and end times.