Neil: Neil from Messick's here. I'm out with Seth Gantz, one of our precision farming specialists, to show you how to calibrate a sprayer. I have a little bit of work to do. We're going to do a short series here, on going out and taking a field and turning it into a finished lawn. What is essentially my front yard, believe it or not, becomes a YouTube video. One of the things that we need to do in that process is kind of burn off all of the existing grass. Now, Seth is going to help me go over this sprayer here and set this thing up to do it properly so that we're putting this Roundup down at the right rate. Seth is a gentleman who takes care of all the technology, really gets to do all the cool toys, the cool stuff in our business. He gets to play with some cool stuff. He's going to show us the basics of how this has been done for the last number of decades.
Seth: Yeah. The first thing that you want to do, obviously, is run your sprayer. Make sure there isn't any leaks or anything like that. I have a great tool that I like to use, and it's this Greenleaf catch basin. This Greenleaf catch basin is really simple because it asks you "What's your nozzle spacing?" Then what you do is catch whatever comes out of that nozzle, per the nozzle spacing for that desired length of time. Today, this sprayer we have is 20 inch spacing, which is pretty common in agricultural sprayers as well as lawn sprayers, but you also see 15 up to 30 inch spacing on sprayers. Luckily they have that right on here. For this instance today, a 20 inch spacing, we're going to be putting this under a nozzle and catching it for 30 seconds.
Neil: When we came out here today, you grabbed two things when you left your desk. That container and the tape measure there on the back of your hip, to check that nozzle spacing. These are the two things that we really need in order to get started. The first thing we're going to do here is catch. I've got a little switch up here at the cab to turn this on, and I can watch my pressure gauge there, and I'm up to 50 PSI.
Seth: You're right at 50 PSI. I'm going to get my timer out here, my stopwatch, and I'm going to put this under here. As soon as I start to catch, I'm going to start the timer, and I'm going to stop it at 30 seconds.
Neil: Now while we're doing this, the rate that that's flowing right now, we were talking, can change, right, as a machine ages?
Seth: It can. Your nozzles will wear out over time. That changes, but there's also strainers on this sprayer, and that'll change too. Depending on how good of water you're putting in or whatever your spraying is, you'll want to check those strainers, too, because that's going to change your flow.
Neil: A strainer can plug up, nozzle can change. Those things can change over time. We're doing this periodically,
Seth: Correct. Okay. We just caught 30 seconds' worth out of one nozzle. What's great about this Greenleaf catch basin is once you turn it around, on the back you can see it lists miles per hour. It's in increments of two miles per hour, which makes it pretty easy. We can go right down through here and for instance, going six miles per hour, we would, at this nozzle, at the pressure that Neil had stated earlier, we're going to be spraying right around 18 gallons per acre. If we bump up to 10 miles an hour, we'll be spraying at 10 gallons per acre. The faster you go, the less application rate, the slower you go, the more application rate, essentially, is what it comes down to.
Neil: If I wanted to go... How does pressure play into this then? If I wanted to drive faster, since that's what I do, and needed to put down more, I can just very simply dial the pressure up higher.
Seth: You can, but not as easy as you may think it is, because the nozzles play big into it. That's where your pressure comes back to. Your nozzles are only rated at a certain gallon per acre, and pressure plays into that a little bit. Pressure really plays into how much atomization of the water you're going to get out of those nozzles. On a windy day, you're not going to want a higher pressure. You're going to want a lower pressure.
Neil: Lower pressure gives you bigger droplet sizes?
Seth: That's correct.
Neil: Is that normally called out on the label, then, of your chemical?
Seth: They usually list it on there, what they want to see out of that product. For, let's say, an insecticide or a fungicide, they want a smaller droplet size. An herbicide is a good one where they want a bigger droplet size.
Neil: Okay, so we're not using pressure then in order to change our rate?
Seth: Not per se. I mean, it'll change a little bit, but your rate will drastically more change when you change the nozzles.
Neil: Armed with a little bit of information from Seth, we're going to mix this thing up and come out here and spray a little bit. Now you would've seen this field several times by now, but I've not entirely explained why we're here so often. This is actually my front yard. Many years ago, I bought a property out here with the intent to someday be able to put a home on it, and we're finally to the point that is happening. In fact, you can hear the bulldozers here in the background doing final grade right now. We're coming near the end of the process, finally, after several months of working on this through COVID. It's been a little challenging.
We're going to go out in here and spray some Roundup down in order to kill all the grass off here in the front before we come through, turn it all over, and then reseed everything out here. I intend to do this myself, turn it into some YouTube videos for you, and not get somebody else to come in and do it for me. We're going to start by mixing this up into the tank here. Now Seth has helped here a little bit with the rate that we're going to be putting this down at.
We're going to take this and dump it into the top of the tank in the right amount. Now what we're doing here is what you would think of as Roundup. The actual active ingredient in Roundup, though, is called glyphosate. Probably killed the pronunciation of that. This stuff bought in concentrate or from agricultural suppliers is way cheaper than buying it off the shelf at the box store by many, many multitudes. If you need to do this in quantity, like I do, we're going to burn off about an acre worth of grass here today. Buying this from those agricultural suppliers is much more cost effective than going out and, say, trying to buy Roundup concentrate from Home Depot.
This is obviously far from a high-end unit, but when you get into more meaningful sprayers like this, you're going to have a lot of dials and gauges and valves and stuff on them to operate different functions. One of the things that you're going to have here is an agitator. What I've done here when I dump my concentrate into the top is not just go spray right away, but turn this on and run it for a couple of minutes with the agitator turned open. That allows me to direct the flow out of the pump back into a set of nozzles in the bottom of the tank that simply turn that fluid around and distribute the concentrate throughout the rest of the solution before pumping it out through the boom.
Do my best to drive along here at my six miles an hour. This was one of my challenges here with doing this with the RTV. This is a machine that tends to like to go fast, and driving along at six miles an hour is about the slowest speed that I can actually drive a controlled rate at.
Seth: I mean, how fast do you think you'd spray?
Neil: How fast can I go? I mean, the RTV...
Seth: It really depends on your nozzle.
Neil: The RTV goes 45 miles an hour.
Seth: Oh man. Well, you don't want to spray at 45 miles an hour. Oh man, that'd be crazy. In this, I would think six to eight mile an hour would be comfortable. I'd say six would probably be the best. The other thing is, you don't want to drive around with these things bouncing around.
Neil: No, right. Okay. In an agricultural setting, you're usually going to have something that tells your width as you go back and forth here. I don't have any kind of phone marker or GPS to tell me where I've been. I'm kind of very crudely watching the end of my tire mark there. I could have easily chosen to set this up on the back of my tractor as well, with a three-point hitch version. The reason I chose to do it with the RTV is because of the transport speed that I have with this. Being able to have it in the back of the RTV, where I could drive pretty quickly up or down the road to get to a different areas I need to take care of, or if I've got a fence line or something to take care of, or I've got a spot sprayer, it just makes it a little bit more convenient for that reason.
Another plus for doing this with the RTV over a tractor, maybe, would be the suspension that I have. This area right here is still not graded at all. It's really torn up, and to drive through these ruts and stuff with my tractor would be a bit of a ride. Fortunately, on this, you have a machine with suspension that rides a little bit better, and so popping back and forth over these rough areas isn't such a big deal. Another thing that I like for the sprayer right here is this hand wand. I've got several places in the back here where I keep having problems with poison ivy and goodness, I've sprayed this stuff several times now, but with this big tank here I could just drive around and treat this. Now you got to remember, I'm carrying a lot of water here, right? When you see a stream like this, this isn't like you're shooting Roundup from a commercial container. The proportions are a little bit different, but the active ingredient's the same.
Definitely have a group of people out there that gets concerned when they see agricultural chemicals going down. We would see, from the agricultural space, the perspective among any of us would be that people who are out in their lawns with this kind of stuff, just dumping stuff on, in excess, because they don't understand proper application rates and that kind of stuff, are potentially doing a lot more harm than what a farmer may be that's putting down precise amounts of this stuff in very limited quantities. When I say limited, I mean limited. When you look at where I'm going back and forth here, even with the rate that I'm putting this down, which would be about 25 gallons an acre, there's only little droplets and stuff that are done on each area. It's not like I've even gone around with a hand wand and sprayed stuff down at all. It's just the right amount that's needed in order to get the jobs done and kill this stuff off.
Neil: This, if you have your cool container here, it's pretty easy to figure out
Neil: If you were setting this up on a modern piece of equipment, the stuff that you... you don't do this anymore.
Seth: Not really.
Neil: Not really. How is this done on modern machinery?
Seth: On modern machinery, with a flow meter and a control valve, which this sprayer doesn't have, with a GPS, I would pretty much just push a button and let it calibrate. What it does is the machine will pick up it's speed. It'll bring it down, bring it up, bring it down. It adjusts and figures out what that flow is. Now I have to put the width in and how many nozzles are on that boom. Then the computer really does the rest.
Neil: You're taking a GPS monitor. The monitor's figuring out its own flow rate, based upon the number of nozzles.Then you just drive.
Seth: Right. Exactly. It figures it out itself. After you put all that user input information in, it takes all of that, computes it together, and that's what it uses as its...
Neil: You're giving it as an input, since the computer doesn't know what chemical you've put in the tank. Your inputs are what, just your gallons per acre that you need to put down?
Seth: Right. Before you load the sprayer, you're obviously going to figure out, I have a 1200 gallon sprayer and I'm going to do... my application rate is going to be 15 gallons. Then you put your chemical in, and you put your chemical in per that, is how that's figured out.
Neil: This is one 15 foot boom, driven off of one pump. What is typical anymore? How many sections or nozzles or how... what does your average sprayer look like anymore?
Seth: Well, that's a good question. I mean, it really depends on if you're going to a pull-type sprayer or if you're going to go to a self-propelled. Our most common pull-type setup is 60 foot booms. There's some guys out there still running 45. On the East Coast here, we farm garden patches. We don't farm big. We don't farm big fields. That's a pull-type, 60, 45s. Some guys will go up to 90s on pulltypes, maybe on some flatter ground along the Eastern shore. Now selfpropelled machines, 90, the whole way up to 120 is the most common. But you can go the whole way up to 135 feet on self-propelleds.
Neil: That's a lot of boom.
Seth: It is. Most guys run 15 inch centers. Like I said, 20 is somewhat common, and 30 is still somewhat common with older sprayers, but guys who are buying new sprayers nowadays are all going to 15.
Neil: A little bit of a shameless plug. All this stuff is stuff that we sell and you will find in our stores. These little Greenleaf containers right here, with your catch rates and stuff on them, I'll stick a link down in the description to these if you'd like to pick this up online. Probably not something you're going to find in every store you walk into. This is an Iva sprayer here in the back of my RTV, a cool locallymade company here that does these things. It comes out with a really cost effective sprayer with some high-quality components. When you look across here, you'll find T-jet nozzles, Parker hoses, nice quality spray runs and reels, a good commercial pump down there. Stuff that's actually made to last and do some of this light commercial work, even with a tiny little 15 foot unit like this.
Going to be able to help you. A lot of much, much bigger and more expensive things than this, but even stuff down to this size is stuff that our guys are able to help you with. That's a little bit on setting up this sprayer to go out and burn off my grass, getting my own work done here, but at the same time, hopefully give you a little bit of appreciation on how to calibrate a sprayer, kind of understanding the processes that you go through and understanding a little bit of the knowledge that guys like Seth have.
When you're going out and you're doing this on a commercial scale, like many of our customers do, these chemicals are really expensive. You want to be putting as little of them down on the ground as possible. Guys like Seth have the knowledge to go through and help you figure out how to do that kind of stuff to make you as profitable and as productive as possible.