Revisit your sprayer cleaning process
Preventing crop injury means revisiting sprayer cleanout procedures from time to time
Posted: April 16, 2009
Many farmers have seen the tell-tale crop injury pattern, the result of chemical residue held over in the sprayer from previous operations. In most cases, when crop injury occurs it can take some detective work to discover why, but the solution is not usually complex. Attention to the fundamentals is still key regardless of the formulation being used, says Emile deMilliano, manager of agronomic services with Viterra.
Those fundamentals include proper chemical mixing practices, understanding your equipment and any unique practices involved in managing the product, and, in most cases, following standard cleaning practices. "My standard advice is to not cut corners," says deMilliano. "You have too valuable a crop to be messing with."
Read the label. The first thing deMilliano recommends is referring to the product label for unique cleaning instructions. "It's important to know what the manufacturer suggests because there are sometimes variations in the cleaning process," he says. In cases where there are no cleaning processes unique to the product, deMilliano says the standard practice of draining the tank followed by two rinses of water, two rinses of ammonia and another two rinses of water works in the majority of cases.
Mix properly. Crop injury from pesticide residue often starts at the chemical mixing stage, says deMilliano. "If I look at the situations I've seen in the field where we've seen improper tank cleanouts and injury to crops, it often starts with not doing a proper job of mixing the products. You have to ensure the product gets into solution."
Know your sprayer: boom flushes. Knowing the ins and outs of your equipment is also key. One reason this is important is the tendency for pesticide residue to get stuck in booms, says deMilliano. As a result, the product sometimes winds up "flushing" out, usually on start-up, causing damage to susceptible crops in the process. "Understand if there are any dead ends in your booms and if there is anything you need to know to make sure the boom is cleaned out," he says.
Know your sprayer: filters. It's also important to know where all of the filters on the sprayer are located. "I've run into situations where some product was caught up in a filter. The grower cleaned out the main filters but wasn't aware there was an extra filter somewhere in the system that was still carrying residue."
Clean the outside. Although seeding equipment is often the farm equipment most associated with the spread of clubroot, the growing use of sprayers throughout the farming season has increased the possibility of soil-borne diseases being transferred from field to field by sprayer equipment. deMilliano suggests growers consider taking the time to understand the disease, where the disease has been found and, lastly, be on the lookout for it. To prevent spread, he says growers can use the following guidelines for cleaning:
- Remove soil and plant debris from equipment by scraping or knocking off clumps.
- Clean residual soil and debris from surfaces by pressure washing, steaming or using compressed air.
- To go one step further in higher risk areas, apply a disinfectant mist (a one to two percent active ingredient chlorine bleach solution) to the clean surfaces.
How to clean out your sprayer tank
A seven-step process
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) recommends the following seven steps for cleaning spraying equipment.
- Read the product label to determine the recommended cleaning procedure. Have ready all the materials required for the cleanup, including appropriate personal safety equipment.
- Drain spray tank.
- Fill tank with water and add detergent, ammonia or other tank cleaner product and allow to agitate for 10-20 minutes (clean the whole tank not just the bottom half). Flush boom and hoses with solution, allow to stand for several hours (or overnight if possible) and then flush boom and nozzles again and drain tank. When flushing the boom, open the boom ends to get particles out of the boom.
- Inspect inside of tank for visual residues; rinse inside of tank if necessary. Repeat step 2.
- Wash outside of sprayer with soap or mild detergent and water.
- Remove nozzles, screens, and wash separately in a bucket containing cleaning solution. Don't forget to wash out your measuring container with the cleaning solution.
- Remove all boom end plugs or caps. Product residues collected in the ends of the various boom pipe sections could cause crop injury. Thoroughly clean out the plugs or caps and pipe ends with cleaning solution. Carefully replace all the boom end plugs or caps.
More information is available here.
Author: Jeff Melchior
Sponsored by: Meristem Information Resources Ltd.