Every year, some farmers switch from custom-application to owning their own sprayers.
The price tag is high – with costs similar to a combine and much higher than a nice home in rural communities.
But sprayers have become the most-used piece of equipment for many operations to apply fertilizer, herbicides, fungicides or insecticides.
As farming moves away from tillage, the exact placement of chemical, at the right time, is paramount to productivity.
“Technology has allowed us to get more yield from crops – whether it’s through a fungicide application, or an insecticide application, or a split application of nutrients that is put on post-emerge – the sprayer has become a machine that has one of the best returns-on-investment on the farm,” said Craig Jorgensen, AGCO field execution manager for the AGCO Application Equipment Division.
Jorgensen lives and works out of Jackson, Minn., where Challenger RoGators and TerraGators are built. He was contacted for a phone interview about sprayer return-on-investment and new technologies.
“Sprayers can pass over the field multiple times in the season. That makes it a particularly good return-on-investment for a mid- to larger-size farmer to have their own sprayer,” he said.
Application timing for crop protection products has become a big part of production agriculture management. The application has to be completed during the “weather window of opportunity” and based on label recommendations for weed size, for example, to achieve optimum weed control.
The same thing can be true of fertilizer applications for best crop response. Applying nutrients exactly when and where the crop needs them can earn big dividends in terms of yield and efficiency.
“When considering buying a sprayer, something that a lot of farmers have looked at is, ‘I can do it when it needs to be done, I know my own farm better than anybody else. I know where the spots are that need a spot spray. Every time I make a pass across the field, that return-on-investment is easier to attain,’” Jorgensen said.
Self-priming recirculating boom and product recovery system
AGCO introduced the “LiquidLogic” spray system on the RoGator C Series in 2017.
“The capabilities of this system are something that we as a company are very proud to have brought to the North American sprayer market,” he said.
The LiquidLogic system features FlowLogic recirculation plumbing that keeps product continuously moving through the boom, pipes, and filters to eliminate chemical buildup and help eliminate plugged spray tips.
“Even when not spraying, the product is still flowing through the boom, so we never have a chemical settling out, we don’t have plugged-up nozzles, so that is one big advantage,” Jorgensen said.
“Also, during application, the product is pushed out into the boom from several areas to maintain a +/-1 psi variation across the boom ensuring an accurate and consistent rate is applied from tip to tip,” Jorgensen added.
The LiquidLogic system also provides a huge time savings when the operator cleans out the sprayer to switch from one chemistry to another. With no dead ends such as aspirators or end caps to disassemble and no boom strainers to flush, the operator has nothing to disassemble or flush out. The time that is typically spent to do a proper sprayer cleanout can now be used to cover more acres per day.
LiquidLogic also eliminates waste.
“Think about priming the boom on a conventional sprayer. The only way for a conventional sprayer to push the solution through the boom to fill the boom with the new chemistry is to spray it out of the nozzles. This is typically done at the edge of the field, wasting 30-40 gallons of product to completely fill the boom plumbing. You can imagine the waste that goes with that, but also the possible environmental impact, as well,” Jorgensen noted.
With the RoGator C series LiquidLogic system, the recirculation process pushes the solution out through the boom and back to the tank rather than out the nozzles, without wasting a drop. The process takes only a matter of seconds, saving time and product.
The sprayer’s ClearFlow full-recovery system also prevents waste during cleanout. It uses air to force the product from the booms or reload station back into the tank, leaving less than 2.5 gallons in the liquid system on sprayers without a chemical injection system.
In 2020, AGCO conducted crop tours that demonstrated how the impact of improper sprayer cleanout damages crops. In Illinois, for example, corn herbicide was left in the boom before spraying soybeans. As the soybean chemical entered the boom at the center, it pushed the corn herbicide out of the boom from the center toward the tips. The result was visible crop damage in an inverted V-shaped pattern.
Other tests were performed that showed the effects from not thoroughly cleaning out the boom plumbing during a clean out process. An example was not removing all of the aspirators at the ends of the boom sections and allowing the gunk that had settled into these dead ends to stay there and contaminate the product being sprayed on the next crop. Forgotten steps in the clean out process of a conventional sprayer system can lead to crop injury, reduced yield and lost revenue, he said.
The LiquidLogic system’s self-priming, recirculating booms and product recovery systems help prevent these types of injuries.