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Tips to Calibrate Boom Sprayers

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Mon, Sep 12, 2016

ReCalibrating Your Sprayer Throughout the Growing Season 

Farmers should calibrate sprayers once before the spraying season starts and recalibrate them frequently throughout the spraying season to ensure their accuracy, according to Erdal Ozkan, PhD, an agricultural engineering professor who also has appointments with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

As he writes in this post, the primary goal with calibration is to Calibrating_a_Sprayer.jpegdetermine the actual rate of application in gallons per acre, then to make adjustments if the difference between the actual rate and the intended rate is greater or less than 5% of the intended rate. This guideline is recommended by USEPA and USDA. Read the full post below to learn more.

 

 

This post by Erdal Ozkan, PhD was published by C.O.R.N. (March 2016) and is reprinted with full permission

Erdal_Ozkan-_copy.jpg

Calibrate Your Sprayer Now - Here Is an Easy Way to Do It

Check all the components of the sprayer to make sure they are in working order...the only way you can achieve maximum accuracy from a sprayer is by calibrating it once before the spraying season starts, and recalibrating it frequently throughout the spraying season. 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. The primary goal with calibration is to determine the actual rate of application in gallons per acre, then to make adjustments if the difference between the actual rate and the intended rate is greater or less than 5% of the intended rate. This is a recommended guideline by USEPA and USDA.

Before starting calibration, make sure you have a good set of nozzles on the sprayer. Nozzles wear out through extended use causing over application, or some nozzles may be plugged. Clean all the plugged nozzles. Check the output of all the nozzles for a given length of time at a given spray pressure. Compare output from each nozzle’s output with the expected output shown in the nozzle catalog for that nozzle at the same pressure. Replace the nozzles showing an output error of more than 10% of the output of the new nozzle. Once you do this, now you are ready to calibrate your sprayer. 

Calibrating a boom sprayer is not as difficult as it sounds. There are several ways to calibrate a sprayer. Regardless of which method you choose, it usually doesn’t take more than 30 minutes, and only three things are needed: a timer (or watch or smart phones) showing seconds, a measuring tape, and a jar graduated in ounces. Here, I will describe perhaps the easiest of all the methods to calibrate a sprayer.

To calibrate a boom sprayer for broadcast applications using this method, follow these steps:

  1. Fill the sprayer tank (at least half full) with water.
  2. Run the sprayer, inspect it for leaks, and make sure all vital parts function properly. 
  3. Measure the distance in inches between the nozzles.
  4. Measure an appropriate travel distance in the field based on this nozzle spacing. The appropriate distances for different nozzle spacing is as follows: 408 ft for a 10-inch spacing, 272 ft for a 15-inch spacing, 204 ft for 20-inch spacing, 136 feet for a 30-inch spacing, and 102 feet for a 40-inch spacing.
  5. Drive through the measured distance in the field at your normal spraying speed, and record the travel time in seconds. Repeat this procedure and average the two measurements.
  6. With the sprayer parked, run the sprayer at the same pressure level and catch the output from each nozzle in a measuring jar for the travel time required in step 5 above.
  7. Calculate the average nozzle output by adding the individual outputs and then dividing by the number of nozzles tested. The final average nozzle output in ounces you get is equal to the application rate in gallons per acre. For example, if you catch 15 ounces from a set of nozzles, the actual application rate of the sprayer is equal to 15 gallons per acre.
  8. Compare the actual application rate with the recommended or intended rate. If the actual rate is more than 5 percent higher or lower than the recommended or intended rate, you must make adjustments in either the spray pressure or the travel speed or in both. For example, to increase the flow rate you will need to either slow down, or increase the spray pressure. The opposite is true when you need to reduce application rate. As you make these changes stay within proper and safe operating condition of the sprayer. Remember increased pressure will result in increasing the number of small, drift-prone droplets.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 above until the recommended application error of +5%  or less is achieved. 

Got a question or a comment to share? Leave it for us in the comment box below. 

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Topics: Spray Nozzles, Boom Sprayer Calibration, pco tanks

8 Easy Steps to Calibrating Your Sprayer

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Fri, Dec 04, 2015

Calibrating your sprayer doesn't have to be time consuming or challenging. You have probably seen all the formulas and calculations involved with the process but there is an easy way to accomplish this task without having to be a math wiz.

It is important to calibrate your sprayer at least once every season, however more is definitely better. Calibrating your sprayer often will ensure an even application rate and also an effective one. This will save you time and money that you can then invest in other parts of your business. 

As mentioned before, there are many reasons why you should calibrate your spray equipment on a regular basis, but an extremely important reason to consider is to avoid any mishandling of pesticides and other chemicals. When using chemicals it's important to follow the instructions provided on the label: too little could mean an ineffective application, and too much could result in serious consequences such as the loss of your grass or crop, fines, or even health risks.

Based on a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), farmers spend approximately $4.1 billion on pesticides annually. So if your sprayer isn't calibrated properly you could potentially be wasting a lot of money. Let's make sure you are spending your money wisely and spraying efficiently by calibrating your sprayer.

Want to know how you can avoid any mishaps and increase the accuracy of your application? Read below for the 8 simple steps to calibrating your sprayer.

Before you follow the steps, get your sprayer ready for calibration by following these tips:

  • Inspect your sprayer for any mechanical problems
  • Flush the tank and brush the nozzles to make sure they are debris free
  • Check the agitator in the tank to make sure it’s working properly

Okay, now you are ready to calibrate!

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*For minor changes in output, adjust your sprayer pressure to achieve the GPA recommended by the pesticide label. For major changes, either change travel speed or nozzle tip size and recalibrate.

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Topics: Sprayer Depot, calibrating a sprayer, Sprayer Calibration, Ag Sprayers, Chemical Sprayers, Boom Sprayer Calibration, How to Calibrate a Boom Sprayer, user guide, infographics, calibrating app

4 Features of the New Sprayer Calibration Calculator App

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Wed, Sep 17, 2014

Sprayer Calibration CalculatorRecently Corn and Soybean Digest reported on a newly released smartphone app called Sprayer Calibration Calculator that is designed to assist spray applicators with calibrating a pesticide sprayer. The app was developed by the University of Illinois Extension and is available free to those with Apple and Android phones. As we’ve shared in previous posts, the cost of wasted chemicals can be high when your best tool isn’t set up right.

We took a closer look at the app, developed by Scott Bretthauer, an Extension Specialist in the pesticide safety education program, which includes functions to determine nozzle flow rate, among other things.

The Sprayer Calibration Calculator app allows users to select from one of four main options, including:

1.) Calibration:

This setting allows users to calibrate four different sprayer types, including: aircraft, ground rig, turf boom and boomless. Within each of these sections, the app offers sprayer calibration scenarios that can then be saved for future reference.

We explored the ground rig option for sprayer calibration that starts by entering in a few variables, including: application speed, nozzle spacing and targeted GPA. The app then calculates the required nozzle flow rate in gallons per minute. It’s pretty simple. Note that the boomless option is identical to prompts in the ground rig option, but asks for swath width rather than nozzle spacing. All good so far.

2.) PSI for GPM:

The next section is the ever-important setting that allows users to calculate required pressure (in pounds per square inch, or PSI) in order to provide a specific flow rate (in gallons per minute, or GPM), or do the opposite. A good example of its use was identified in the U or I July/August 2014 issue of the Illinois Pesticide Review that mentions this would come in handy if the flow rate isn’t listed in the nozzle manufacturer’s flow rate table. Or for those “my dog ate it” scenarios.

3.) Nozzle Speed:

The third offering in the app is pretty self-explanatory and should only be used with sprayers that have a flow control system. In short, it lists the minimum and maximum speeds for a specific nozzle.

4.) Convert Value:

Lastly, the convert value function assists users with some of the commonly associated pesticide application-related unit conversions that could be useful as a quick reference guide.

In a prepared statement that discussed how to use the smartphone application, Bretthauer explained that when using the smartphone application, “for most variables, touching the name of the variable brings up a definition of what the variable is and how it is measured.” It also looks like the developer has plans to add a function to assist with tank mix calculations, which could be fun, and more.

If you have the chance to check it out, let us know what you think in the comments below.

Topics: Sprayer Depot, sprayers, pest control, Apps on the Sprayer Depot blog, Pesticide Applicators, calibrating a sprayer, pesticides, Pesticide Application Technology, Pesticide Application, Pesticide spraying, Pesticide applicator, Spray apps, apps for spraying agriculture, pest control app, Sprayer Calibration, sprayer checklist, Sprayer Set Up, Calibrating a Boom Sprayer, Boom Sprayer Calibration, sprayer tips and tricks, University of Illinois, Scott Bretthauer

How To Manage Spray Drift in 5 Easy Steps

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Wed, Aug 27, 2014

Kings SprayerImagine you’re applying pesticides using a backpack sprayer. Or, just the same, you’re spraying from a truck using a tank, pump and hose to apply chemicals. Maybe you’re using a boom setup. For that matter, you could even be piloting an airplane and in each situation the definition of spray drift is the same.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency: “pesticide drift is the movement of pesticide dust or droplets through the air at the time of application or soon after, to any site other than the area intended.”

We’re all aware of those two dreaded words: Spray Drift. While the repercussions of it vary for each industry and application type, the definition and solutions to manage spray drift are similar. In many of these scenarios above the issue with spray drift can lead to spotty pest control, wasted chemicals, off-target damage, water and air quality issues and higher costs. That last one really hurts. As the public becomes more aware of pesticide concerns, and regulators are quick to slap fines, spray drift management from that standpoint is vital to our livelihood.

Much like you take precautions to protect yourself with your work attire by making sure to wear proper clothing, eye protection and closed-toe shoes, you should also consider these five steps to manage spray drift from Sprayer Depot.

  1. Avoid spraying when weather conditions are unfavorable. I know, I know. You’ve heard this time and time again that weather affects spray drift. It’s true though and often times we get so caught up in our day-to-day that we ignore this important factor. Think about the day’s conditions as it relates to wind, temperature and humidity, air stability, etc. Know your product labels well and understand these requirements, even for wind velocity. Make adjustments accordingly. It may, even on the extreme end, require you to reschedule that day’s work. Also think about how droplet size factors into the weather issue. Large droplets are less likely to drift in general because they fall more quickly, evaporate more slowly and are less affected by the wind given their size. We like that.
  2. Consider using buffer zones. This aspect is becoming more important given label requirements these days. These "no spray zones" serve as a barrier to protect sensitive areas and vary greatly for each landscape, equipment and application type. Design of a buffer area depends on variables like spray method, wind, chemical type and the type of sensitive area that you’re trying to avoid. In general there is not a one-size-fits-all rule.
  3. Try new technologies like drift reduction nozzles. We recently spoke to Mark Techler with Hypro & SHURflo Ag and Industrial Pumps and Accessories in a recent blog post about drift control spray tips. He explained that these drift control spray tips “use air induction to produce air filled droplets, which dramatically reduce drift compared to conventional tips.” He went on to share the benefits of this new tech and offered up the Hypro SprayIT Calculator as a resource the next time your considering one of these new parts.
  4. Lower spray (boom) heights. It makes sense. The higher the boom, and thus the spray nozzle, are above the target, the more likely that wind will move droplets away from the intended area. Your nozzle label will offer a recommendation on nozzle height, which can serve as a good starting point to adjust the boom height. However, often those recommendations for nozzle height are much higher than optimum on large application equipment traveling at higher speeds. Of course, you want to ensure the boom isn’t too low, which can create uneven patterns. A 1:1 boom height has generally been the standard, but some recommend getting a tad closer so we recommend using the manufacturer recommendation as a starting point and working down from there – take into account your unique landscape and spray mechanics. 
  5. Use lower pressures.  In general, the concept that we’ve all heard is to use lower pressures, which result in larger droplets. However, in today’s application world this method might need some adjusting given the new technologies with drift control spray nozzles. With the design of some drift control spray nozzles that introduce air induction, these tips will create a drop in pressure while still producing larger droplets. 

Your actions can affect spray drift. After all, you CAN control the equipment you use and the field conditions you spray. So while you may not have control over the weather or even the neighboring property, you can be empowered by these 5 easy steps to manage spray drift and you have the opportunity to educate your team, too.

Topics: Spray Equipment Maintenance, Hypro, Boom Sprayer, fertilizer sprayer, Sprayer Depot, sprayers, spray equipment checklist, sprayer, spray tips, calibrating a sprayer, spray tip, spray tip selection, Shurflo, Sprayer Calibration, sprayer checklist, sprayer equipment, sprayer nozzle, spray drift, spray tip calculator, spray tip selector, drift control spray tip, drift control, Sprayer Set Up, Calibrating a Boom Sprayer, Boom Sprayer Calibration, sprayer tips and tricks

Calibrating Your Boom Sprayer

Posted by Marketing Manager on Mon, Dec 16, 2013

Contributed by Guest Blogger: Robert Wolf
Professor Emeritus
Kansas State University
bob@rewolfconsulting.com
 
 

Calibrating a sprayer is critical to making an accurate and safe application of a crop protection product.  Typically, calibration is defined as checking the sprayer output to make sure it is spraying the proper amount of material as stipulated by the label for the product you are applying. 150 Gallon 3 Point Hitch with 12' Boom

With today’s modern boom sprayer, electronic rate controllers are used to maintain a uniform application volume (GPA) across the sprayed field.  However, even if the rate controller is accurately measuring the amount of output is not necessarily guaranteeing that each nozzle is exactly at the same output.  In other words, if one or more nozzles were clogged emitting no spray, it is likely that the rate controller will still be reporting an accurate application volume.  With clogged nozzles there would not be a uniform application and skips in spray would result in crop protection breakdown.  In fact, the nozzle next to the clogged nozzle is likely to be over applying to compensate because of the demand from the rate controller to maintain a uniform application volume.  Thus, one aspect of calibration is making sure that every nozzle on the spray boom is spraying as near as possible the same amount of material.  This can only be done with a collection so that the output of every nozzle on the boom is known.  A typical collection would involve using a catch container and a stop watch to measure each nozzles flow and compare.

A new tool for calibration is the SpotOn® digital sprayer calibrator.  This tool is accurate for most boom sprayer setups and ideal for longer booms with more nozzles.  More information on this device can be found at www.innoquestinc.com.

 

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Topics: Boom Sprayer, Calibrating a Boom Sprayer, Boom Sprayer Calibration, How to Calibrate a Boom Sprayer, Robert Wolf Kansas State University

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