By Rebecca Hannam
Equipment technologies are continually advancing to provide more opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness. But according to Jason Deveau, an application technology specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), farmers do not have to buy a new sprayer to take advantage of the newest tools.
Deveau works with technology companies worldwide to learn about and test their latest sprayer advancements, and he says a multitude of aftermarket products can be purchased to improve operation and application.
Oil- and water-sensitive papers are yellow cards that turn blue when sprayed. Deveau says the papers provide a cost-effective way to show coverage, spray drift and sprayer contamination.
“By taking your time and using a clothespin and flag in the field, you can get a very good, immediate picture of how well you are doing,” he says, adding the tool can help farmers put recommended practices to the test by using the papers before and after changing methods, and analyzing the difference.
TeeJet Technologies offers two monitor products that Deveau sees as opportunities to improve operator management – the Sentry 6140 Flow Tip Monitor and the Sentry 6120 Droplet Size Monitor. The flow tip tool detects plugged tips as well as high and low flow errors or partial blockages. Deveau says using a minimum of three tips, sensors are mounted at each spray tip location without impacting flow. The sensors are linked to a touchscreen monitor, and errors are indicated by audible alarm and display notification. “This type of tool could replace hard-to-read floats, and could be used when planting, spraying and applying fertilizer.”
Deveau notes droplet size affects coverage and drift, and operators should be using catalogues to determine the average droplet size given their pressure and nozzle choice. He describes TeeJet’s droplet monitor as a catalogue tool, as it provides real-time droplet size display and highlights size changes with auto-rate controllers.
The Accu-Volume System, manufactured by Custom Concepts Mfg. Inc., claims to increase operator efficiency and Deveau agrees it answers the question of what exactly is in the tank. He says some gauges can be inaccurate by approximately 25 gallons, and sprayer grade can create a difference of up to 80 gallons during filling. The monitor, which includes a digital display in the cab and at the loading station, reduces the chances of running short or over-batching, and helps operators to avoid diluting existing solutions.
Deveau says Johnson’s Innovations manufactures Peek-a-boom, a remote controlled system for performing timed output tests safely and easily. Peek-a-boom allows operators to turn individual or all boom sections on and off from the cab or other nearby locations. ATI Agritronics Inc. has a similar smartphone application product called
AppliMax Spray Boom Remote Control.
New in 2014, Pentair Ltd. announced the Hypro Duo React Twin Valve Nozzle Body. The product features a single nozzle holder and a rotatable four-way turret in one unit which Deveau says allows the operator to select either or both tips from the cab. He notes this tool could be convenient for operators aiming to switch from fertilizer to fungicide, from conventional flat fan to air induced or to dual fans.
Deveau says the Pentair Hypro Express Nozzle Body End Caps product could be applicable to more operators. “The caps are also air aspirators which could mean an 85 per cent faster shut-off valve operation.”
In terms of nozzle calibration tools, Deveau points to the SpotOn Sprayer Calibrator made by Innoquest Inc. He says this digital spray tip tester can be described as a vessel with two inside sensors. Once the meter is held under the nozzle at a slight angle, the tool displays how many litres, ounces or gallons per minute it is emitting within approximately 10 seconds.
Research and development
Deveau also reviews products currently in development or not yet available in Canada such as K-B Agri-Tech LLC’s Pattern Master, Harrie Hoeben’s Wingssprayer and Coraltec Inc.’s D30.
The creators of Pattern Master (patent pending) are claiming this product will change the way the industry looks at drift control. “It is a brush that is mounted in front of the nozzle, which means more coverage and less drift,” Deveau says, noting the brush has bottom bristles to diffuse but not block air flow. The product is currently being tested in the U.S. Deveau says initial trial results comparing brush to no brush show significant coverage improvement.
Wingssprayer has been available in Europe for four years and the manufacturer is considering expanding into Canada this year. Deveau says the product is a floating shield that blocks oncoming wind and flexes to lightly drag the crop surface which opens the crop canopy. Because the shield decreases the distance between the nozzle and crop, the creators claim Wingssprayer reduces dosage by up to 30 per cent.
Deveau says Coraltec Inc.’s D30 spray droplet size measurement system research is currently focused on industry applications, but the technology will be modified for agriculture.
“Spray mix viscosity can change nozzle output by as much as 30 per cent and also changes the volume median diameter (VMD),” Deveau says. “D30 could provide a way to check this quickly to ensure effective material deposition.”
As product technologies advance and new educational courses become available, information and free downloads can be found at www.sprayers101.ca, or by following Deveau on Twitter @Spray_Guy.