Pro Operator

Strict regime keeps things clean – Spring ’19 edition

Cleaning out a sprayer

While sprayer cleaning needs to be done quickly, it’s a job that must not be rushed. Following a good regime will prevent cross contamination damaging crops, the environment and the operator’s reputation.

Instigating a rigorous sprayer cleaning regime, employing the latest techniques and technology as well a good planning can help save time and water without risking contamination.

Sprayer rinsing and cleaning is a fundamental part of every operator’s day and most will be already following their own routine, which suits their work, machine and products they apply. But there are often ways to make it better and easier.

Iain Robertson, an ex-FSOOTY winner, advocates using multiple rinses. Dividing the tank contents into three equal, smaller rinses dilutes the residue and cleans the system four times more effectively than one big rinse.

“My sprayer will empty its 300 litre clean water tank in 90secs at tick-over. Using a tip from Steve Lake, a fellow FSOOTY winner, I simply run the pump for 30secs to transfer a third at a time,” Iain explains.

He aims to circulate each third of the liquid through the system for about four to five minutes, at the same time as opening the valves in turn. Allow plenty of time for it to circulate before moving to the next position, he adds.

“Remember to also activate the safety valve. You can hear when it opens to release the pressure,” he says. “Most sprayers now have boom recirculation, but for those without it remove the caps to prevent residues building up in the ends,” he says.

In the video below, Anthony Facchin, technical specialist from Hardi Academy, explains the cleaning process using a standard system with manual valves:

Tap into technology

Auto-rinsing systems are now a common option on sprayers equipped with electric valve controllers. Automatic dilution programs make cleaning faster and easier and often more thorough than is possible manually.

Vicon recently received a gold award for its iXclean Pro system in the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) technical innovation awards.

The system runs a 25-step cleaning process in four separate cycles, after each of which the operator is instructed to empty the washings by spraying. This video takes you through the process.

Using All Clear

When to use All Clear

Highly active products, such as SUs, which are often applied at doses as low as 6gm/ha, present a special cleaning challenge. Any remaining residues of these actives can have a significant effect on sensitive crops including sugar beet, oilseed rape, potatoes and peas.

A full wash-out will be required for some older DF formulations and other ALS products. This is because the granules do not fully dissolve in water, which means they are partly in solution and partly in suspension. This makes it much more difficult to remove all traces of the highly active ingredients.

Most operators using SUs will be familiar with All Clear Extra, which was first developed by Dupont for use with its ALS herbicides. FMC now manufactures and markets Dupont’s ALS products as well as distributing All Clear.

Other manufacturers’ herbicides that have CRD-approved ALS tank mixes, which have been tested, can be washed out with the product, provided operators follow their specific label washout recommendations.

With FMC’s newer SX-branded formulations, which are fully soluble, the water volume and washing time can be greatly reduced – by up to 80%. This is due to a much lower risk of particles being trapped or settling out in the sprayer. But this will be stated on the label.

Operator’s auto-assisted regime

Brian Manning is the primary sprayer operator at Collmart Growers, a Cambridgeshire-based farming enterprise, which is one of the UK’s largest independent growers, harvesting 810ha of red and brown onions, in addition to 243ha of potatoes.

Brian shares spraying duties with farm manager, Robert Bowd, and is often required to spray onions, potatoes and sometimes wheat all on the same day.

This workload requires a meticulously organised spraying routine. Onions and potatoes always take priority and valuable spraying time can be compromised not only by travelling between farms, but also by having to perform multiple washouts during the day.

Brian operates a John Deere 5430i, self-propelled sprayer and to ensure fast and thorough cleaning he makes full use of its SolutionCommand system in his meticulous regime.

Filling the clean water tank

1: Brian fills the clean water tank by a hosepipe or regular fill pipe from a mains-supplied bulk tank or bowser. The tank on the John Deere 5430i holds 500 litres of clean water.

Selecting the rinse cycle

3: Brian then selects the maximum rinse cycle on the SolutionCommand. This is a two-cycle process, which takes approximately 45 minutes.

Draining the tank

5: When the washout is complete, it is necessary to drain the tank. Once the drain cap is removed, a switch on the external control panel allows the remaining water to be emptied.

Using All Clear

2: A measured amount (2.5 litres) of All Clear Extra is poured into the clean water tank, rather than into the induction hopper. This, says Brian, ensures hoses from the inductor to the tank are cleaned and treated more thoroughly.

spraying out the booms

4: The system prompts the operator to spray-out the booms after the first and second wash cycles. Each washout cycle requires about 200 litres of water.

Pressure check

6: After the washout, Brian makes a visual check of the pressure filter. Cleaning the filter is routine maintenance, and usually performed at the end of the day.

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