Early spring sprayer

Editor’s note: The following was written by Ryan Bergman, program coordinator in ag technology at Iowa State University, for the university’s Integrated Crop Management News website.


Ensuring your equipment is ready can save valuable time and reduce stress when windows get tight due to weather conditions.

Take time to look at the products you plan to apply in 2020 and evaluate if the nozzles you have will work well with those products at the speeds and pressure you plan to operate in.

Some chemicals like dicamba and 2,4-D products have strict nozzle requirements, whereas other products like glyphosate allow more choices.

Nozzle strainer

Nozzle strainers build up debris as a result of dirty carrier solution or chemical build-up, which will restrict solution flow and impact the application rate.

When applying multiple products, refer to the label with the most strict nozzle requirements to select your nozzle for that application.

If you operate at a wide range of speeds and pressures during the season, evaluate the benefits of a PWM (pulse-width modulated) spray system to provide a broader range of nozzle flow rates while managing droplet size more consistently.

Running the sprayer with water to evaluate nozzle performance before the season starts is a best practice. Ensure this is done with proper personal protective equipment. While this can be time consuming, it helps you identify worn, plugged or damaged nozzles.

main solution strainer.

Inspect and clean the main solution strainer. 

Nozzle strainers often build up debris as a result of dirty carrier solution or chemical build-up. The debris will cause the affected nozzle to experience a different pressure and create rate variation across the boom.

Examine nozzle alignment during this process. Nozzle holders or mounts can bend or move (especially if booms frequently hit the ground or other obstructions).

Solution plumbing

It’s recommended that the machine’s plumbing is cleaned regularly to avoid chemical build up and potential cross contamination. Double check these areas prior to heading to the field.

Strainers are crucial to ensuring particulate doesn’t get into the solution system or nozzles. Regular cleaning of all strainers on the machine is always recommended. Some machines have multiple strainers on the chassis or boom.

Inspect the machine plumbing for hoses that are not properly secured, sagging or have excess wear. Sagging or kinked hoses can impede solution flow and cause chemicals to become trapped in these areas. Replace worn hoses and tie up loose hoses.

Remove and check the end caps on solution tubes for buildup and clean if needed.

Depending on the type of flowmeter your system uses, remove the insert and ensure it’s clean and can move freely. Have the flowmeter on your machine re-calibrated. Your local equipment dealer or rate control supplier can assist you with this process.

General maintenance

It’s important to make sure your sprayer is mechanically sound. Consult your owner’s manual for checklists and specifications to evaluate during this process. Make sure greasable parts and joints are properly lubricated, machine fluids are at the proper level, filters are clean and in good condition, and tire mounting nuts are properly torqued and in good condition.

Due to the high speeds and axle loads experienced by sprayer tires, the tires need to be in good operating condition and properly inflated.

Taking time to inspect and maintain your sprayer now is one step to preparing for a smooth spring.