Keeping Herbicide Sprayers Ready During Winter Time

 Regular maintenance of sprayers can assure efficient herbicide applications.
 UA System Division of Agriculture photo by Dirk Philipp

   Good winter maintenance practices for herbicide sprayers help protect hefty investments and make sure the equipment is ready for spring.
   Herbicide sprayers help keep weeds at bay and pastures healthy, making them one of the most powerful tools in a livestock producer’s arsenal. 
   They can come with a hefty price tag, but herbicide sprayers are a good investment, said Dirk Philipp, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture associate professor of forages.
   “A pulled sprayer with a roughly 300-gallon capacity may cost around $5,000, but this is money well invested given its versatility,” Philipp said. “This type of sprayer can be equipped differently.
   “Typically, these sprayers come with booms to either side that have nozzles in addition to a single center nozzle for broadcast spraying,” Philipp said, “Sprayers at this price range do not come with GPS, but a foam marker setup can be purchased and fitted on to the sprayer.”
   Sprayers are used only a few times a year when herbicides are needed, and these herbicides require a lot of liquid during application. This can have adverse effects on sprayers if they are not properly maintained, Philipp said.
   Philipp gives his advice below on how to properly care for herbicide sprayers to protect your investment.
   Rinse and drain tank and booms after each use.“Don’t leave any chemicals in it for extended periods of time,” Philipp said. “Many chemicals are corrosive, so rinsing the entire tank, system and pumps after each usage is mandatory.” Find a part of your property where it is safe to clean the sprayer and rinse and drain the tank and booms.
   Be cautious when mixing herbicides.What each herbicide can be mixed with is specified on the label, Philipp said. Thoroughly rinsing the sprayer will also ensure that dangerous or incompatible chemicals are not accidently mixed the next time it is used.
   Check to see if repairs are needed.Before using the sprayer, be sure to check for leaks and broken nozzles that need to be replaced. Also, check to see if replacing original parts with newer or higher quality ones will help provide better herbicide application. “There are nozzles on the market that minimize drift,” Philipp said. “It pays off to experiment a bit with replacement parts that are not too expensive.”
   Prepare your sprayer for the winter.Sprayers are most often used during spring and fall, when weeds are a bigger problem, and go unused during winter. Preparing the sprayer for winter is key in making sure it’s ready to go again come spring. “Be extra cautious with remaining liquid,” Philipp said. “Rinse and drain everything before storing the sprayer away.” Maintain tire pressure at all times to keep the tires in working order and prevent the rubber from cracking. Be sure to pay attention to all plastic parts on the sprayer as they can burst quickly from even a light frost, Philipp said. ∆

 Replace worn sprayer nozzles to ensure efficient herbicide applications.

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