Even though you might have parked your sprayer for the season weeks or even months ago, it’s important you spend a little more time with it before you park it for the winter. We sat down with Mark Burns, Case IH sprayer marketing manager, to pick his brain about the ins and outs of long-term sprayer storage. Here’s what we learned:
Q. Why is it important to prepare a sprayer for winter?
A. Besides helping you get a jump on a busy season, properly winterizing and storing your sprayer can protect it against damage caused by freezing temperatures and help improve its longevity and resale value. A thorough cleaning and inspection also will help uncover potential problems before they become bigger headaches. Upon final rinse, examine nozzles, screens, hoses, valves, pumps, booms and the tank for signs of maintenance concerns, such as damaged nozzles and leaky hoses, connections or plumbing.
Q. What steps do you need to take to ensure the sprayer is properly stored for winter? Is there a checklist?
A. Start by reviewing the long-term storage procedures outlined in your operators manual. These tips and recommendations also can help:
- Clean and wash the entire sprayer to remove dirt, debris, oil, grease, chemicals and fertilizer. Once tanks have been cleaned, nozzles, screens and filters should be removed and cleaned separately in a bucket containing water and the recommended cleaning agent.
- Always remember to read the product specimen label for the last product or chemical used and adhere to personal protective equipment requirements when cleaning.
- Touch up any chips, scratches and rusted areas with the appropriate protective paint to reduce corrosion.
- Lubricate exposed areas, such as hydraulic cylinder rods, to minimize corrosion.
- Fill the fuel tank and add a conditioner. The conditioner will stabilize the fuel for extended storage periods, and a full tank minimizes condensation. Also, drain the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) tank, if applicable.
- Change engine oil and other lubricants. Follow the operators manual guidelines for appropriate fluid and filter changes.
- Clean the product system flow meter.
- Remove spray tips and nozzle bodies from the nozzle body assemblies and store separately. Check spray tips for wear and replace as necessary.
- Winterize the product system plumbing. Thoroughly flush the entire system, including fence row nozzles and foam marker systems, if equipped. Run RV antifreeze through the system to eliminate the possibility of freezing. Do not use liquid fertilizer, which can cause corrosion.
- Charge batteries and then remove and store them in a safe area.
- Remove rate controllers and electronic displays. Cold weather storage can cause issues with display screens.
- Properly inflate tires and check on them occasionally through the winter. A tire left flat for an extended period can be ruined.
[Tweet “This Q&A can help you prepare your spray equipment for a long winter’s rest. Via @Case_IH”]Q. What issues can arise if you don’t take proper steps to store your sprayer?
A. If you don’t thoroughly clean both the inside and outside of your sprayer before you park it, you could experience costly problems come spring. For example, if the spray tank is not properly cleaned out, chemicals and fertilizers from the tank could permeate hoses and soft parts, which would weaken the overall system and increase the risk of chemical cross-contamination. Chemical residue can cause parts to flake off. These flakes can get into plumbing, resulting in plugged nozzles, plugged screens and wear on pump parts. Components can get sticky or seize up from residual chemical exposure over extended periods of time. In colder climates, water left in equipment can freeze and damage pumps and other components.
Q. Are there any misconceptions about storing sprayers for the winter that need to be set straight?
A. A lot of money flows through your sprayer every year in the form of crop protection chemicals. Yet just one small component — the sprayer nozzle — has everything to do with how much return you get from your investment in time, fuel and product.
Maintaining the sprayer’s nozzle is imperative to achieving the best spray performance, and the cost to do so is nominal compared with the cost of chemical used for effective weed, pest and disease control. Spray nozzle tips can wear over time, with dry chemicals in suspension causing higher rates of wear than liquid chemicals. That’s why it’s important to check the nozzle flow rates, look for potential problems and confirm the accuracy of the sprayer. After you have rinsed and cleaned your sprayer, look for mismatched and worn nozzles and damaged nozzle screens. Replace nozzles if needed and make sure to remove nozzle tips and nozzle bodies from the nozzle body assemblies.
If you need help accomplishing these storage procedures before winter settles in or if you need parts, fluids or filters, contact your Case IH dealer. They have the expertise to help ensure your sprayer not only is field-ready next spring but also stays on the job on your farm for years to come.
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