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Tips on sprayer tips

Successful applications rely on proper sprayer tips

By Kriss Nelson - Farm News editor | May 11, 2021



Proper application of a herbicide or pesticide, fungicide starts with the sprayer tip.

Robert Varland, in parts and sales at Ag Solutions Group in Fort Dodge said the days where one or two different spray tips was all an applicator used are in the past.

“Those general purpose tips that covered it all – those days are gone,” he said.

And don’t think because you may own the top of the line sprayer that your application worries end there.

“You can have a $300,000 brand new sprayer, but if you have the wrong spray tips on there, you are going to do a terrible job,” he said. “Using the wrong spray tips, you are tripping at the finish line.”

Do you know what sprayer tips you are using?

“Sometimes it can be confusing to some of these farmers because there are so many spray tips out there,” said Varland. “Many, many times, I have them come in and I will ask them questions. Ask them what they are using now? And many times they don’t know.”

Spray tip manufacturers have made understanding tip sizes easy as colors are industry standard. Varland said it is how those spray tips deliver the product that makes them different.

“It can be a different angle, the width of the pattern – is it a 110 degree pattern or an 80 degree pattern? Single fan versus double fan? But they are all putting the same amount of water on,” he said.

Varland said one of the first questions he will ask when the operator comes in to buy sprayer tips is to find out what product are they spraying because nowadays, the product being applied often has a droplet size recommendation.

For example, when applying the herbicide Liberty, Varland said it is recommended to use a medium to course droplet spray tips which should allow for complete leaf coverage.

As far as when applying the product dicamba, a completely different spray tip is required.

“We want the biggest droplet possible to eliminate drift due to the issues of dicamba drift,” said Varland. “The tip used for applying dicamba is the highest on the scale of droplet sizes.”

The smaller the droplet, according to Varland, is usually the best for coverage because they are smaller and there are a lot of them. However, they may be more susceptible to drifting.

Not only do the spray tips offer different droplet sizes, but also how the chemical is applied. Just a few examples Varland mention include single fan and double fan design.

Oftentimes with a single fan, Varland said you may not achieve the full coverage you are looking for.

“You might spray over the top of the weed, come back three days later to see what kind of weed kill you have, the top leaves are brown, the lower leaves are just speckled brown, but with a lot of green left on them. You didn’t kill that plant,” he said.

This is where looking into the double fan design may be beneficial.

The double fan spray tip, Varland said features two spray patterns, essentially hitting the weed four times in one pass by hitting the weed front, back and overlap side to side.

If you are not using the proper tip for the chemical you are spraying, don’t try to blame the chemical dealer when the product does not work.

“As a farmer, if you are using the wrong tip and you don’t get what you feel is a good weed kill, and you go to the chemical rep and say your chemical didn’t work, and they find out what tip you used, they won’t respray it for you because you didn’t use the proper equipment,” said Varland. “That is how important having the proper tip is.”

There are also air injected and non-air injected nozzles.

“Non-air injected spray tips have smaller droplets than air injected tips,” said Varland. “What an air injected tip does, it has a little hole or chamber that as the product is going down through it, pushing air in there making the droplets bigger because they are air filled. Some misunderstand this, they think because there is air in the droplet they drift more, but actually, the air makes them drift less.”

Consider nozzle bodies

Varland said the chore of changing out spray tips can be lessened by installing nozzle bodies on the sprayer booms. Nozzle bodies are available in triples or quintuple.

“With a triple nozzle body, there can be three different tips on there and as you change chemicals, all you do is turn them. You don’t have to take one off and put a new one on. They also have one with five ways.” said Varland. “The modern farmer, if he is up to date and doing prescription spraying, he needs to have at least a triple body, if not a five.”

Worth the cost

Varland said some spray tips can be costly at $12 to $14 a piece. And that investment will only be for one or two products.

“You want performance so you can’t look at the dollars,” he said. “Most of these spray tips, depending on what you are using, a lot of these spray tips will last 30,000 to 40,000 acres. For the common size farmer will last many years, or until they change their herbicide program and they have to have a different droplet size. As far as longevity, they will last quite a while.”

Ask for help

Varland said now is the time before the post herbicide applications begin to do your homework – look to the internet and find videos that show spray patterns and reach out to your local chemical or sprayer dealer for help deciding on what sprayer tip to use.

“It can be overwhelming, if you do a little bit of homework and understand the concept of droplet size and how these tips differ, it really isn’t that tough,” he said. “It all comes down to angles, droplet size and what you are trying to accomplish.”

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