Articles

Chemical Injection: When and Why?

The development of modern agricultural methods began gradually with small inventions like the ball valve and the solenoid valve. In recent years it has grown rapidly into what is now known as precision-ag, with huge improvements in all areas, particularly in spraying techniques.

Automatic rate controllers, boom levellers, boom shut-offs, auto steer and GPS guidance systems have all revolutionised the way we spray.

Another advance that is becoming widely used is chemical injection. Unlike traditional spraying, where the chemical and carrier (usually water) are mixed in the same tank, chemical injection keeps the concentrated chemicals and carrier in separate tanks until the moment of spraying.

Chemicals are metered and injected into the water after it is pumped from the main tank and just before it passes through each nozzle. This allows for greater accuracy in application rates and greater flexibility in site-specific crop management.

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Using Cam Lock Couplings on Your Hoses

Hose couplings come in all shapes, sizes and materials, from the humble snap-on plastic garden hose coupling right through to the heavy duty quarter-turn couplings used on fire hydrants.

But there’s one coupling that stands head and shoulders above the rest; the cam lock coupling, arguably the greatest invention since the ball valve.

Cam lock couplings provide a fast, simple way to connect and disconnect large diameter pipes and hoses.

Commonly used in agricultural spraying because they increase the speed with which tanks can be filled and refilled, cam lock couplings are also employed in a number of other industries, including petroleum, chemicals, agriculture, transport and wineries.

Cam lock couplings are also used in paint and dye factories, where constant hose changes are required, as well as fuel, oil and gas delivery trucks, liquid waste removal vehicles, cleaning services and more.

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The Top Three Applications For Boom Sprays

Boom sprays are ideal for spraying pre-emergent and post-emergent crops on properties with relatively uniform topography.

The top three delivery methods for boom sprays are broadcast, band and directed application.

Broadcast application is where the spray pattern of each flat-jet nozzle overlaps with that of its neighbour to provide even coverage right along the working length of the boom.

Band application is where the spray is delivered in a series of bands that cover only the rows in a field.

Directed application is where the spray is directed at each plant from different angles to completely cover the foliage or selected parts of it.

Whichever application you use, your boom spray must be calibrated to avoid chemical waste, injury to crops and potential environmental damage. Calibration should be done at the beginning of the season and then at regular intervals when in continuous use.

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Tips For Accurate Spraying

Accuracy in all aspects of spraying from mixing to application is not just about cost effectiveness. It’s also a health and environmental issue, particularly when spraying insecticides. Concerns about residues and risks to operators and the environment require extreme caution and accurate mixing and usage.

You need to read and understand all labelling, use only according to manufacturers’ instructions and observe EPA requirements. These vary from state to state, but generally advocate avoiding crops grazed by livestock, preventing excessive spray drift, keeping your equipment well maintained, posting sprayed areas, safely storing dangerous chemicals and wearing the correct personal protective gear.

Pesticides will be ineffective if the wrong mix is used. A neutral pH is required for maximum effectiveness of fungicides and insecticides. Some pesticides quickly ‘hydrolyse’ in alkaline water (break down to form a less active compound), so buying a pH kit to test your water supply is recommended.

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How to Upgrade Your Current Spraying Equipment

There have been some major advances in spraying technology in the last few years and if your current gear is looking a bit ‘yesterday’, here are some ways you can upgrade to the latest and greatest spraying innovations.

An automatic rate controller controls your application rate for you by continually monitoring your flow meter and speed sensor and opening your control valve to the required level. That means no wastage.

As its name suggests, an automatic boom height leveller constantly adjusts the height of your spray boom. It utilises either gauge wheels that skip across the ground and relay pressure readings, to which the boom adjusts, or uses ultrasonic sensors, which keep the boom at a preset height regardless of the terrain. This technology has led to a reduction in costly boom damage and also reduces operator fatigue.

The development of the GPS guidance system is probably the biggest advance in spray technology to date. It uses real time data from satellite technology to show you exactly where you have sprayed in a field, thus reducing wasted time and materials. It also allows you to spray in conditions of poor visibility such as dust or low light.

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