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Industry pushes farmers to test spray nozzles

Nozzles may appear to be functioning well, but they may be bleeding product, Canolapalooza attendees heard June 22

By the time spray nozzles are visually worn out, they’re already losing you money.

That is according to Matt Kynoch, solutions supply specialist with Enns Brothers and one of the instructors at Canolapalooza, held in Portage la Prairie June 22.

“If you can visually see the spray pattern’s not as good on one nozzle than the others, especially from the cab, by that point in time, your nozzle’s probably been worn out for quite a few acres,” Kynoch said.

He recommended that nozzles be replaced once excess spray reaches 10 per cent over specifications.

Sprayers 101, an online resource for farmers co-founded by Tom Wolf of Argimetrix, echoes the 10 per cent threshold, but argues that five per cent would be an even more effective goal.

“If two or more nozzles are worn, replace all the nozzles at the same time,” the blog advises.

In most cases, Kynoch said, a calibrator is needed to detect nozzles meeting the threshold, and while that is an expense, the cost of excess product can quickly add up into the hundreds of dollars. His own company’s calibrators range from $200-$300.

“In my experience, a lot of farmers will tend not to have nozzle calibrators to calibrate their nozzles and check their flow rates through them,” he said. “It would be a small majority of farmers that would. There’s a lot of value in calibrating your nozzles and checking the flow rates through them. It can show whether a nozzle is over- or underapplying, if your pattern is suffering because of it (or) if you’re going to be lacking coverage.”

Kynoch recommends that producers calibrate their nozzles every spring before spraying starts.

Sprayers 101 suggests calibrating nozzles after other variables like ground speed and operating pressure have been calculated.

New nozzles are no exception, as Wolf’s blog notes that he has seen new spray nozzles vary from specifications by up to 10 per cent in either direction.

The blog notes several calibration methods, but advises that farmers test the output per minute of each nozzle for most accurate results. Other methods, such as filling enough water for a set area and then comparing how long spray actually lasts, may not take blocked or worn nozzles into account or, in the case of a dipstick test, may be skewed if the sprayer is not parked in a flat area or if the dipstick is not set correctly, a Sprayers 101 post states.

Kynoch estimates nozzles may last between 20,000-25,000 acres, depending on the product being sprayed. More granular or corrosive product may cause the nozzle to wear out faster, while regular sprayer cleaning may extend nozzle life. Nozzle type will also have an impact.

“Polyacetal nozzles or ceramic nozzles will last longer than brass or stainless steel nozzles and it can definitely give you more life out of your nozzle than running those other types,” he said.

Reference material produced by spray supplier Spraying Systems Co. cites ceramic as being one of the most resistant nozzle substances to abrasion, well ahead of stainless steel. Both brass and polypropyline ranked among the bottom materials.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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