Tips for sprayer maintenance

8/14/2015 10:01:17 AM by

In order to achieve optimum crop health and vibrancy, you should use three different rinses to ensure proper sprayer maintenance. Even small amounts of chemical residue can have a negative effect on both your crops and equipment.

Most farmers know that cleaning their sprayers is necessary for adequate crop management, but many don't have enough time to go through the cleaning process. It's very important to make the time to clean your equipment — not only will it help you cut costs in the long run, it can help improve your total yield in the current season.

First Rinse

Before starting your first rinse, you should empty the booms, tank and the hoses. The hoses and tank will often contain leftover chemicals that collect in low areas that are easily missed during cleaning. Both are usually made of plastic materials that absorb chemicals if they're left there too long, which makes it much more difficult to prevent contamination.

Even if you believe your sprayer to be empty, there are still a significant amount of chemicals left in the tank that you don't want to get into the groundwater. Upon emptying the equipment, you can perform the first rinse on your field.

Second Rinse

Before beginning the second rinse, remove and clean all screens. A common mistake is to merely flush them out, which can remove large chunks, but won't get everything. Use a brush and organic soap to clean the screens properly.

You also need to clean the end caps at the ends of booms. There is often chemical build-up located here that contaminates the system. You can replace them after the rinse is completed.

Third Rinse

Prior to performing the third rinse, you need to add tank cleaner. But first, you should educate yourself on what the cleaner can and can't do. The tank cleaner is needed to assist in neutralizing the remaining chemicals in the equipment. You should find a cleaner that has surfactants, which extract chemicals stuck in plastic parts.

Once you've completed this rinse, you can perform the final rinse. However, most farmers choose to do a fourth rinse in case any tank cleaner was leftover from the last flush.

Spray the outside

The final step to proper sprayer maintenance that is commonly overlooked is power-washing the outside of the sprayer. This is to clean off any dried herbicide residue that can collect on the outside of the sprayer, which poses the risk of mixing with other chemicals and contaminating your fields.

All this time and effort is definitely worth the short- and long-term benefits. To ensure that you don't accidentally kill your crops by overlooking the necessary cleaning of your sprayers, use this checklist:

  • Empty the boom every night.
  • Spray the first rinse in the field.
  • Remove and thoroughly clean the screens.
  • Remove and clean all end caps.
  • Perform the second rinse with water and replace the end caps afterwards.
  • Add and hold tank cleaner to get out the hard-to-reach chemical residue.
  • Complete the third rinse and flush the tank.
  • Do a fourth rinse if you decide it is necessary.
  • Rinse the outside of the sprayer to get any dried chemical residue.

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Do a thorough clean of your sprayer regularly.