Here’s One Simple Tip to Get More Out of Nutrients

15 Mar Here’s One Simple Tip to Get More Out of Nutrients

Ed Whaley in Growing Georgia, March 15th, 2013

What if there was something a farmer could do to make his sprayers more efficient without buying any new equipment?

It may be as simple as turning the nozzle. “Whether you are using a liquid fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, if you are using a vertical sprayer, you are losing a lot of your chemical because it’s hitting the leaf and running off the plant. You’re blowing a lot of it off the plants,” said Grasshopper Regional manager Ed Whaley.

The problem is using a broadcast nozzle to spray directly down. Turning the nozzle out can make a big difference.

“You can take those sprayer tips and turn them horizontal – right straight out behind the sprayer – and let that go in a mist to float down on the plants. It will cover your plants better. You will get better results,” he said.

Farmers may point the nozzle at too vertical an angle because they worry about drift. But the result can mean the chemical harms the plant.

“When people spray vertically, especially with a broadcast sprayer, the center of the swath often gets over-sprayed or over-saturated with the solution,” said Grasshopper owner GW Sharp. “The total swath rating at a certain psi may be 10 gallons per acre but that is an average. The outer side portions of the swath may actually be receiving 5 gpa while the center is getting 12-15 gpa.”

Farmers have seen the effects of a lop-sided application. One area is much greener (the center of the spray), while surrounding areas get less of the nutrient and are less lush. Along those same lines, herbicides may burn the center section where the plants are getting more than the recommended rate.

Herbicide companies are aware of the problem, according to Sharp, but don’t want to alienate the customers who are using their product. Farmers first told Whaley about their success with horizontal spraying, leading him to study their claims.

He found that researchers have found horizontal spraying is more effective. That led him and other Grasshopper representatives to start telling their clients to take a look at their own equipment.

For many farmers, all that they need to do is loosen the fitting, turn the nozzle and tighten the fitting again.

“Anything that you are spraying, it’s better to let the chemical float down on the plant than to spray it down and knock most of it off the leaf,” Whaley said.

“Every time you bring this up, farmers will say, ‘Well, why didn’t I think of that?”