Pesticide handling machine takes on new profile as safe management tool
Posted: May 25, 2009
Marketed as a time-saving device, The Handler is gaining support for its safety
To Curt McNaughton, the time-saving benefits of "The Handler" are nearly incalculable. As a former custom applicator who once sprayed in the neighbourhood of 25,000 acres per year, the Drumheller, Alberta-area grain producer says the machine's ability to cut jugs and empty them into sprayer tanks with little producer intervention kept large scale operations moving along quickly and efficiently.
Although McNaughton no longer deals with the same economies of scale he did as a custom applicator (he now sprays 3,500 acres of his own property), he still uses The Handler when emptying pesticide jugs and filling tanks. The reason why will probably resonate with most anyone who has ever filled a sprayer by hand and had chemicals splash back on them on account of the "glugging" effect.
"I just don't like getting spray on me," he says. "You're not opening jugs or sticking a hose in there or anything like that."
Many more producers today are realizing that The Handler, manufactured by St. Albert, Alberta-based Focus Industries Inc., not only helps prevent chemical from getting on themselves, but also from hitting the ground and posing a threat to water supplies and non-target crops. And as sprayers and farm operations get bigger, Brian Bateman, general manager of Focus Industries, says demand for the nearly 20-year-old product is growing.
"In the last number of years, as we've seen an increase in spraying, the demand for The Handler is just steadily increasing because of the ease of opening, emptying and cleaning containers," he says. "(Sales in) Western Canada have been very strong over a number of years and we're just getting into the United States and worldwide with the product."
How it works
The Handler cuts, empties, and cleans plastic chemical jugs in a process that takes less than 30 seconds. The user places a full container into the machine, a patented stainless steel knife system cuts it open, the contents are emptied for mixing, a venturi is used to draw the chemical out of the tank and introduce it into the water stream as it's being pumped into the sprayer, and the jug is then triple-rinsed for safe disposal.
Evolving to meet new needs
Over the years, The Handler has evolved to meet new marketplace needs. One of the biggest drivers of this continues to be an overall increase in spraying activity, which in turn has driven a shift towards larger sprayers, aerial application, and the use of bulk containers.
Today, The Handler comes in four different models spanning a range of sizes from 15 gallons (59 litres) to 230 gallons (870 litres) and featuring a variety of extra features based on various consumer needs. An example is the option to add an AccuShield, another Focus Industries product which turns the machine into a closed system, completely eliminating exposure between the user and the chemical – a legislative requirement in some areas. Also, optional high performance venturis enhance high throughput operations by drawing product from the tank at rates of up to 49 gallons per minute at 50 psi.
The net result of this adaptability has been use by a wide cross-section of the crop spraying community, says Bateman. "We're seeing custom applicators using them, producers using them, and aerial applicators are using the largest units," he says. "We're definitely seeing a shift to the (larger units)."
Related information: Focus Industries Web site: www.focusindustries.ca