Provide care to reduce the wear
Minimise financial outgoings by doing essential sprayer preparation ahead of the new season
Every year, many thousands of euro in agricultural chemicals are administered to various crops in an attempt to control pests, aid production and maximise yields.
The machines used to administer these sprays are often dragged out at the last minute with little in the way of preparation. If it doesn't leak and can produce water at the jets then it is often regarded as being in working order.
You have to consider the monetary value of the chemical cocktail that your sprayer may be carrying. Perform a few checks and a little maintenance, and the tank's valuable cargo will not be wasted in leaks or incorrect administration. Just because the right amount of chemical goes out on each acre doesn't mean it has been administered correctly. Take a little time and check the unit over -- it could save you a few euro.
Here we go through one of the more popular sprayer makes found in Ireland, an 800-litre Hardi LY800. This machine is a 12m boom-sprayer with hydraulic-folding booms and electric controls. Though in its second decade, it is still a very capable machine and there are many similar versions both older and younger -- electric and non-electric controls with manual or hydraulic booms -- still in active service all over the country.
On first inspection, look for damage caused by corrosion to areas of the sprayer with linkages or securing brackets and tank-securing bands. Many of the chemicals that pass through a sprayer are extremely aggressive to metalwork and paint may be the only thing binding two pieces of metal together. So, before you hook up to the tractor, and especially before you load up with water and chemicals, make sure the sprayer's metal frame is sound and can carry the load.
On a machine of this age there is plenty of heavy surface rust bubbling away under the paint. This would really require treatment as metal structures are quite thin to keep weight down, such as on the actual sprayer booms. A wire brush and some red oxide paint should help preserve any rusted or exposed metal.
Before working on the sprayer, though, give it a wash down, preferably with some detergent in the mix to neutralise any nasty residues that may be on the machine's surface. Even performing this task, a wise precaution in protection would be to use a clear face shield and some suitable gloves and overalls to offer some protection against potential chemical residues.
The various products that pass through a sprayer may not just be hard on metal -- the main tank and the machine's overall pipe work and plumbing may also be affected. Have a look around for signs of cracks or perishing in the tank and piping -- particularly where the sprayer booms fold, the pipes may kink here. Replace anything suspect. Check that the PTO shaft tubing and joints are not worn and seized. If the PTO guard is defective, replace rather than risk it.