Spray some attention to maintenance
As the rush starts to establish crops, avoid big problems by finding time to service the sprayer
As the days lengthen and the weather warms up, we are again entering what is perhaps one of the busiest periods in the farming calendar, with farmers and contractors rushing to establish cereal, maize and potato crops.
An integral part of managing these crops is the application of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and liquid fertilisers.
All of us are acutely aware of the cost of these chemicals and in an attempt to ensure the desired amount of chemical is applied in the correct manner, we visited Teagasc's sprayer specialist Tom Ryan in Kildalton. Tom and his retired colleague Bernard Rice have accumulated a wealth of advice and information on sprayers and spraying over the years.
More recently Teagasc carried out a survey of 14 crop sprayers to check their general condition and their ability to apply pesticides accurately.
None of the sprayers were idle as, according to the report, the 14 sprayers covered almost 3,000ha a year -- four times the average. The following is one of the actual reports on a sprayer surveyed at the time and many may find the checklist section of the report (see table, left) useful as a guide to performing checks on their own sprayer. Mr Ryan compiled the results, which make for some interesting reading.
- Forward speed
Forward speed that the sprayers were operated at ranged from 8km/hr to 11.5km/hr. The speed read-out for 12 of the sprayers was equal or almost equal to what was indicated on the tractor's own speedometer, while one sprayer was 1.4km/hr and another 1km/hr faster than indicated in the cab.
- Pressure gauges
The table (above) shows the results of the pressure gauge tests with regard to gauge error, reading zero when stopped and glycerine level.