Efficiency is more than a buzzword this growing season. For many of you, it’s your mantra. When it comes to application, efficiency is about more than conserving inputs — it’s about product and natural resources stewardship.1 So make time to calibrate your spray equipment now and throughout the application season.
You can’t afford to let weeds, bugs or disease steal yield. You can’t afford to waste money applying pesticides at rates too high or too low. Today’s low-use-rate pesticides require even greater precision. One or two nozzles slightly out of adjustment can significantly impact results across a field or your entire farm. Calibration is the only way to ensure proper application.
Start by reviewing your operators manual. Most include the manufacturer’s recommended calibration procedures. Common calibration methods often are available through various sources, including the agricultural engineering department at your land-grant university. Colorado State University offers this detailed fact sheet. The Noble Research Institute offers the Ag Tools mobile app, a set of tools and utilities including several different sprayer calibration calculators. The app can be downloaded for free from the iTunes® App Store® or Google Play® store, depending on your operating system. Clemson University created Calibrate My Sprayer, a free mobile app that guides you through the calculations. It’s also available through the iTunes® App Store® or Google Play® store. While you’re visiting your favorite app store, search and you’ll likely find more free and commercial sprayer calibration apps, along with other application-related tools.
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Here are some tips for calibration success:
- Calibrate your spray equipment under field conditions, not on a gravel road or in the farmyard.
- Invest in quality measuring devices; you’re calibrating, not guesstimating.
- Check the calibration of wheel or radar speed sensors. A minor change in the angle or position of the radar unit can significantly impact application rates.
Calibration isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Frequent checks throughout the season or anytime you change nozzles will help keep your applications accurate. You can simplify calibration with a Spray Nozzle Calibrator from your Case IH dealer. Or consider a Sprayer Performance Kit. The kit includes a Spray Nozzle Calibrator plus everything else you need for optimum spraying: a spray boom remote control, water pH tester, spray nozzle air blaster, pressure gauge, cleaner brush, safety gloves and glasses, and a rugged, compact storage case with space for extra nozzles and bodies. The easier and more convenient you make calibration, the more likely you are to check it frequently.
Remember: Proper application starts with calibration. Too much or too little application isn’t cost-efficient, and it isn’t sound product or land stewardship. Review your calibration options today, and you’ll be ready when it’s time to spray.
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1Hanna HM. Protecting Our Water Quality with Sprayer Calibration. Agriculture and Environment Extension Publications. Iowa State University website. http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1114&context=extension_ag_pubs. Published May 2009. Accessed April 24, 2016.