Jun 08, 2020

The success of crop protection applications can often be boiled down to one thing: The cleanliness of the sprayer with which the products were applied. Unusual crop damage, stunted or discolored plants, or no pattern to the crop injury may be indicators of sprayer contamination.

So how does a sprayer get contaminated? And how can contamination be minimized?

To answer those questions, according to Craig Gustafson, Federated’s director of agronomy operations, start with the product label. Federated Agronomists are like a broken record when they say, “Always read and follow the label directions” – because the label is the law. Prevent contamination by:

  • - knowing your pesticide use restrictions (ground water, crop rotation, personal protective equipment, etc.);
  • - using proper rates along with approved tank partners;
  • - determining the approved carrier and rate, and additives, if required;
  • - following mixing instructions to prevent incompatibility;
  • - reading instructions for proper cleaning procedures and disposal of rinsates.

Growers can further minimize the chance of contamination by adhering to strict sprayer hygiene. Gustafson offered these guidelines:

  1. Start clean. “This is the best recommendation,” said Gustafson, “to always start with a clean sprayer system.”
  1. Never leave mixed solutions overnight. This will prevent product separation, chemistry soaking into porous materials or caking onto any material, and it is even more difficult to clean a tank after the product has settled out.
  1. Rinse at end of each day. “Water is your friend,” said Gustafson. Triple rinse your sprayer with clean water to minimize tips getting plugged, and to lessen tank and line build up.
  1. Repeat. Start clean. End clean. Everyday. And, Gustafson said, “refer to the label for in-depth tank cleaning instructions.”   

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