Chemical applications in wet conditions

Late spraying this spring? Keep your eye on your herbicide labels.

Adjustments in timing pre- and post-emergence herbicides could mean altered application rates, different products.

A wet start to planting and growing season — like the one farmers in many parts of the country have faced this year — has created several herbicide application issues that could lead to weed control challenges later on.

Excessive moisture in the form of both snow and rain turned fertile fields into lakes earlier this spring, with some areas facing massive and costly devastation to land and crop infrastructure. Beyond that high-profile damage, excess moisture has cranked up the pressure for farmers to get everything done in the field — fertilizer applications, tillage, planting and herbicide applications — before the clock runs out.

The good news is that equipment and technology are boosting productivity in the field for many field operations; for example, farmers can plant a lot more corn in a tighter time window today than even just a few years ago. But in many cases, Mother Nature ultimately decides how much work will get done and how fruitful those labors will be.

 

A pair of weed control problems 

Those conditions have caused one of two weed control problems for farmers entering summer. First, farmers were pressed for time and were unable to get pre-emergence herbicides applied before planting. Secondly, others encountered wet conditions after planting when post-emergence herbicides would normally be applied.

If you’ve faced a general delay in applying herbicide, it’s likely your crop — and the weeds you’re targeting — will be further along developmentally. This will make it critical to account for that development through scouting and checking herbicide labels before turning a wheel on your sprayer.

“Wet weather can result in weeds and crops that are larger and more advanced in growth stage than anticipated,” according to a report from Ohio State University Weed Management Specialist and Professor Mark Loux. “The larger crop is primarily a problem in corn, where a more advanced growth stage can start to limit herbicide options.”

 

Changing products and rates

Rates may need to be adjusted based on the size of both your crop and invasive weeds, as well as any correlated changes in plant uptake of applied chemicals.

A late, rain-delayed start typically requires increased rates of herbicide application, especially in Roundup Ready and LibertyLink fields, and some grasses that would ordinarily be controlled well by glyphosate alone may require an additional clethodim product, Loux said. In cases with high populations of giant ragweed and other weeds that have shown signs of developing herbicide resistance, it’s advisable to apply the maximum recommended rate. Also consider mixing other products labeled for controlling weeds like giant ragweed to add to a full-rate glyphosate application.

Though he recommends full rates and potentially adding a residual product if applying herbicides late, especially in soybeans, Loux said it’s important to observe the required re-crop interval. This will prevent any unintended residual adverse effects on next year’s crop.

“While we advocate strongly for the use of residual herbicides in soybeans, the need for full rates of residual premix products applied in late June is debatable. Some residual herbicide labels specify a 10-month or greater interval between application and corn planting next year; and we are through the period of peak weed emergence, so the residual herbicide activity does not have to last as long, assuming that post herbicides will be applied,” Loux said. “In addition, soybeans grow more rapidly when planted in late June compared with early May, so there is less time until a crop canopy develops to help with weed control.”

In general, it’s critically important in examining both primary and alternate pre- and post-emergence herbicide options to closely read product labels to ensure you’re both applying a product that will be effective and preventing any unintended residual effects that could harm crop output potential in the short and long term.

If you’re facing wet spraying conditions this spring, here’s more help to make sure you’re spraying the right way.

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Spraying Swag and Tips

Spray safe with the right protective gear.

The chemical label is your friend when determining the right PPE. 

Anyone accustomed to spraying herbicides knows the job has inherent dangers, especially when working with chemicals with a higher toxicity. Ensuring you’re protected for the job is essential before beginning any spraying task.

In many situations, experienced operators know the necessity of personal protective equipment (PPE). The right clean, well-maintained PPE labeled for specific use to protect the most likely points of entry into the body — skin, mouth and respiratory system — should be made available for every operator who works directly with herbicides and pesticides. It’s not only important to have the equipment with you, but also to wear it according to specific instructions to ensure you’re safe from any potential chemical injury.

“It is very important to select the correct PPE,” according to a report from North Carolina State University Extension Pesticide Safety Education Specialist Wayne Buhler. “More is not necessarily better in the case of PPE. Select the PPE required by the label of the chemical you’re applying.”

Understand chemical-resistant versus water-resistant.

When selecting your PPE, it’s important to understand a few key terms on product labels.

If a PPE garment is “chemical-resistant,” that doesn’t mean it’s completely impervious to infiltration by many common chemicals. How strong that resistance is depends on the specific product being applied.

Correct selection of PPE is the first critical step. Follow the pesticide product label carefully when certain types of gloves, respirators, and/or other PPE are specified. For example, a specific type of glove material may be highly chemical-resistant to some pesticide products but not others. A respirator suitable for one task may not be suitable for another.

“A ‘water-resistant’ material is different than a ‘chemical-resistant’ material,” he said. “‘Chemical-resistant’ PPE is ‘material that allows no measurable movement of the pesticide being used through the material during use.’ However, ‘chemical-resistant’ aprons, coveralls, eye protection, footwear, gloves, and headgear are not equally resistant to all pesticides, under all conditions, and for the same length of time.”

Secure the right gear.

Depending on what exactly you’re doing when working around chemicals and preparing your Apache Sprayer this season, here is a checklist to run through in preparing the right PPE. Check your chemical label to see which of the following components are required for each product and operation:

  • Aprons
  • Coveralls
  • Eye protection
  • Footwear
  • Gloves
  • Headgear
  • Respirator

Here’s more on how to select the right PPE.

Get it all in working order.

It’s important not only to have the right safety gear, but to make sure it’s inspected and fitted for each individual user. When using various PPE items together, make sure they are in good working order and will perform their safety functions as a collective system.

“It is very important to select the correct PPE. Just as important, the PPE must be working correctly every time you use it, either alone or in combination with other PPE. When several pieces of PPE are used together, they must not interfere with each other. For example, protective goggles must not interfere with the operation of a respirator,” Buhler said. “Before and after every use, check for any type of deterioration of or damage to all the components, seams, etc. of the specific reusable PPE and, if necessary, dispose of it properly.”

See more ways to make sure you’re operating safely in the field this year.

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Reflecting on a decade of serving farmers

Patrick Casey talks information, customer service focus

He’s had what many in agriculture would consider an unconventional path to his leadership role with one of the fastest-growing sprayer manufacturers in North America. But Patrick Casey, who’s retiring this spring after almost a decade with Equipment Technologies (ET), has found a home with the maker of Apache Sprayers based on a shared commitment to farmers that’s evident every time he walks into his Mooresville, Indiana, office.

Casey gleaned his first exposure to crop production as a 10-year-old, when he observed a neighbor in North Andover, Massachusetts, operate a tractor on his vegetable operation. When Casey took his new position with ET and circled back into agriculture years later, he rediscovered an industry in which service and relationships between the manufacturer, dealer, and customer are incredibly important.

“If you want to work with an honorable group of people focused on doing the right things, this is a fabulous place to work,” Casey said.

Building a new system for growth

But he didn’t always feel that way. “I didn’t want to come here at first. Nobody was minding the information systems, and given the growth of the company, that was a problem,” Casey said. “When I got here, the IT staff was one person. But we knew that information was a critical asset just like people, investments in sprayer improvements and R&D, and we moved forward with that philosophy in mind.”

Casey worked with ET CEO Matt Hays in a previous position. So when Hays contacted him with a request in 2010, he was happy to help out his mentor and former colleague. Hays was building a leadership team and wanted Casey’s input on building information technology (IT) systems — an area of emphasis throughout his career since completing his studies in the Indiana University MBA program in 1977. Casey made a trip to Mooresville and was persuaded to join ET as vice president of IT. In retrospect, he knows he made the right choice.

“The focus of my work has not just been to make the trains run on time from an IT standpoint, but to use the information to move the needle on sales and open up new lines of business. Doing those things requires us to be acutely attentive to our customers, and it all relates back to customer service,” Casey said. “Using information to drive sprayer sales has been my primary focus, and that process involves working with sales reps, field staff, engineers and managers to find out how we could better spread the word about the best sprayers in North America.”

Uncommon strategies to grow sales, improve service

With that philosophy of service in mind, Casey has targeted his IT efforts toward a number of strategies that previously weren’t common in the sprayer sector, but have yielded a new level of relationship for the company and its customers. Recognizing that ET and Apache Sprayers weren’t the most recognizable names in the sprayer sector, he helped develop new ways to expand the company’s visibility and market share. One of those ways was borrowed from other industries: Create a call center to help direct qualified sales leads to sales representatives, providing a new level of customer service to farmers in the market for a sprayer and turning them into customers.

“When ET started operating a call center, we did it to find growers who would benefit from having a self-propelled sprayer, then connecting those growers to our team in the field. We wanted to make sure that if a farmer invests in a new or used Apache Sprayer, that farmer has a fabulous user experience,” Casey said. “Part of that is having a well-trained sales staff, and part of it is making ourselves available to our customers. If somebody is having trouble tracking down an owner’s manual, they can call us and talk to somebody at the factory. It’s part of our value proposition to the farmer. And at the end of the day, we want to do everything we can to drive value to the farmer.”

“The main goal is to expand market share for our sprayer business. Manufacturing great sprayers and getting them to farmers who will benefit from having them – this is our main priority,” Casey said. “Are there more farmers in the U.S. and Canada who would benefit from a self-propelled sprayer? Yes. Can we grow our market share in new areas? Yes, we can. That, to me, will be the right measure of success for us.”

“Just crush it.”

But soon, that growth will happen without Casey leading ET’s IT department. Though he said he’ll likely “do a little around here” after his official retirement, he’s confident his successor will continue managing the IT component of the sales and serving the customer as he has during his tenure.

“How do I want to be remembered? As a straight shooter. Someone who wants to create value for farmers without screwing around,” Casey said. “I have always approached information as something that can help us get closer to our farmers and do a better job of serving them.”

“Patrick Casey is irreplaceable,” said Matt Hays, ET Chief Executive Officer. “His respect for everyone, his  humor and compassion have helped shape the ET culture in such a positive way. We will miss him around here.”

“Leave me in the dust,” Casey said of his advice to his successor. “Stand on my shoulders and just crush it.”

Learn more about some of the technology options with ET and Apache Sprayers. See the full 2019 lineup of Apache Sprayers.

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Cover crops and no-till: The business case for healthy soil practices

Owning your own sprayer plays a major role in your no-till and cover crop success

Farmer balances soil health, high productivity with these two systems

Weed control is an increasing priority for many crop farmers today, especially with rising concerns about herbicide resistance in fields around North America.

Just as high of a priority for many farmers is soil health. To that end, cover crops are joining no-till systems as an increasingly common way to sustain soil health without sacrificing crop productivity. The two have one major thing in common: neither works without a sprayer.

The Chesapeake Bay region, an area not known for bumper crops but with high sensitivity to water quality and awareness of environmental issues, may seem a strange setting for Trey Hill. He’s a farmer who likens his operation more to a large, progressive Midwest row crop farm than smaller neighboring operations in the area.

But, it’s where Hill calls home, operating a farm that’s been in his family for over a century. Harborview Farms started out near Rock Hall, Maryland, in the early 20th century, and by the time Trey’s father Herman Hill, Jr. brought his son into the operation in the 1980s, soil- and water-saving practices were moving up the farm’s priority list. Today, two of those practices are no-till and cover crops, and a foundational element to making them both work is Hill’s sprayer.

Trey Hill approaches those practices through the lens of productivity, typically employing what many in agriculture would consider modern, conventional crop inputs, including full-rate chemical applications and genetically modified seed to maximize crop yield. Balancing those inputs with production systems like cover crops and no-till, he’s able to maximize output while being attentive to the long-term needs of his environment. In other words, two things historically considered mutually exclusive converge on Harborview Farms.

“I’m always looking for the most efficient ways to apply chemicals, and I’d say our sprayers are up-to-date,” Hill said. “There’s no way I could operate my farm this way if I didn’t use the latest chemistry and advanced seed genetics.”

No-till and cover crops as part of a broader strategy

Why go to the trouble to integrate environmentally sound production practices onto a farm whose goal is to maximize crop yield? The answer is simple: Hill sees direct impacts of a changing climate on his farm, and he wants to ensure Harborview Farms remains productive well into the future. While the right practices add up to production systems that wind up profitable for the farmer in the long run, the right combinations of technology and attentiveness to soil health and structure are helping Hill do more than make ends meet.

“We have had a lot more large rainfall events in the last few years. It’s pretty well-documented that the changing gulf stream has led to some very, very wet years,” Hill said. “We need to build resiliency in our soils so they can better absorb more of these four- and five-inch rains we’ve been having more often. We need to lessen erosion potential and increase soil organic matter.”

For Hill, it’s not just about clean water. When he transitioned to no-till and cover crops, he kept a close eye on maintaining long-term productivity and farm revenue. Over time, these types of practices have made his soils more malleable in the face of widening weather extremes and capable of supporting bumper crops year-in and year-out.

No-till helps create a more balanced environment for soils. When covered by crop residue year-round, soils in no-till systems don’t undergo typical wide swings in temperature common in conventional tillage systems. That residue helps the soils retain moisture better in arid areas and reduces erosion from both water and wind. The result is a more mellow seedbed with better-balanced organic matter.

But in the absence of tillage, no-till farmers also rely on chemicals to provide pre-emergence and knockdown control of weeds that otherwise would be managed by tillage. Precision is important when controlling weeds in a no-till system, making it difficult to rely on commercial applications since hitting a specific targeted time window in of the utmost importance.

Distinctions of cover crop systems

While they add to the benefits of no-till, cover crops also create new demand for chemical applications. They have grown in popularity among farmers in recent years for some of the same reasons as no-till’s earlier surge in popularity: cover crops help preserve soil structure and health by preventing erosion and providing additional sources of soil nutrients.

Often integrated into no-till production systems, cover crops take time to establish, but once a complementary mix has reached maturity, it can offset supplemental fertilizer and some herbicide needs if managed correctly. And, that management often includes using a sprayer to terminate the cover crop either immediately before or after planting a row crop. In addition to overall improved soil health and soil organic matter, benefits include increased row crop yield potential, grazing opportunities and reduced tillage costs.

“Cover crops generally are not harvested because many of their benefits are gained from decomposing biomass left in the field. Thus, cover crops must be efficiently terminated to prevent competition with cash crops. Inadequate termination of a cover crop or allowing a cover crop to go to seed may result in unwanted cover-crop growth during cash-crop production,” according to USDA report by a team led by Jason S. Bergtold, Kansas State University ag economist. “Herbicide spraying, known as chemical ‘burn down,’ is one method of termination. A burn-down pass to terminate a cover crop is unlikely to be an ‘additional’ pass for a no-till operator, as it is common to spray a non-selective herbicide prior to planting to terminate winter weeds.”

Maximizing cover crop benefits with a sprayer

Since integrating cover crops into his crop rotation in recent years, Hill has begun “planting green,” a technique that involves terminating his cover crop by spraying after he’s planted his row crops in the spring, yet another process whose success depends greatly on having a precise, effective sprayer. By spraying after he’s sown his cash crop, he’s able to maximize the soil health benefits of the fall-planted crops that complement his corn and soybeans for reasons similar to the soil health benefits of no-till systems.

“Planting green widens the spring planting window for us, because the cover crops help buffer some of the soil temperature variations that can make corn emergence difficult in the spring,” Hill said. “We’re actually planting earlier than we ever have because we’re planting into soil with living plants on it.”

The ability to better regulate soil temperature variation is just one of the benefits that make cover crops an ideal fit in many no-till systems in which cover crop residue can augment existing benefits of decreased tillage. “Residue mats minimize rainfall erosion, help maintain a constant soil temperature and decrease weed emergence,” Bergtold said.

After planting, Hill applies a full rate of herbicide to terminate the cover crop that usually comprises cereal rye, barley or wheat along with a clover, rapeseed and radish mix. Once the corn crop is planted, the cover crop is terminated within five to 10 days.

Timing termination

Why wait until after corn planting to terminate the cover crop? Hill said in addition to helping moderate soil moisture as well as temperatures, his specific cover crop mix has natural herbicide properties that complement the full rates of atrazine or other small-seeded broadleaf herbicides he applies after planting.

“You have to figure out which cover crops complement your cash crop instead of competing with it,” Hill said. “We still apply full rates today to prevent weeds from building resistance. Particularly with soybeans, this mix of cover crops and herbicides helps prevent marestail and Palmer amaranth. If you can knock it down when you terminate your cover crop around emergence, you won’t get it all year.”

Just like with chemical applications targeting specific weed pressures during the growing season, timing is hugely important when knocking down weeds when terminating cover crops after planting. Determining what will work best is a field-by-field decision process, Hill said.

“Timing is critical, especially with soybeans. Sometimes we can wait until our corn has emerged,” he said. “It just depends on the situation. Typically, we’ll chase the planter with the sprayer and try to do it in the same day.”

Why a sprayer is critical

Just like with no-till systems, ownership of a sprayer is an important part of making a cover crop system work in many instances given the importance of timing the termination of the crop, especially when planting green. “Personal ownership of a sprayer is convenient due to the required timeliness of this type of operation,” Bergtold said.

The combination of a wider spring planting window for corn and soybeans and natural season-long herbicide properties make cover crops a financially viable system for Hill’s operation, and he said he’s likely to continue working toward perfecting it to ensure his soils see continued benefits that will appear through continued strong crop yields and consistent soil organic matter and nutrients. He sees his sprayer as a critical component of managing his cover crops, and that will continue especially given the new components and features he expects in coming years.

“I’d like to get pulsating nozzles to help better deal with dicamba. Those higher-tech nozzles will really come into play with that product,” Hill said.

See some of the other technologies Hill has employed on his farm. If you’re interested in learning more about terminating cover crops with herbicide applications, start here. If you’re ready to get started but need to determine which sprayer is right for you, start here.

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Out of Options: 4 Tips for Spraying in Wet Fields

Originally published 2017

Updated April 2019

It’s been a long winter and that has brought on an extremely wet spring. You’ve waited and waited for your wet field to dry, but it hasn’t. Now weeds are starting to take up residence in your crops. Do you risk soil compaction by bringing your ag sprayer in to apply herbicides or keep holding out for better field conditions? There’s no easy answer, but there are times when weeds pose a greater threat than machinery tracks in your field.

If weed growth has overtaken a crop and a grower needs to spray a field, there are factors that will help you minimize crop and soil damage. Get our expert tips before you head out this spring:

1)  Consider using different sprayer tires.

“If you’re entering a wet field consider using flotation tires. You’ll need to choose between semi-floats, full-floats or duals,” said Jeremy Hurt, senior application specialist for Equipment Technologies.

Apache Sprayer in Wet Field

Flotation tires are usually rear-mounted, while semi- or full-floats are wider than conventional farm tires and spread the weight of the sprayer over a larger area to reduce compaction on the soil. Duals are twin sets of narrower tires mounted on the same axle — together they create a weight dispersion similar to floats.

“I think float tires do a little bit better in wet conditions than duals, even though you’ve got almost the same width,” Hurt said. “Be mindful that the bigger semi- or full-float tires are a little harder to put on and take off compared to duals, where you just add another tire to each side. Duals can also make transportation on roads a little tougher with the extra width. Plus, duals are not set up for crop rows so you’ll have two sets of wheel tracks, which could cause crop damage.”

According to Michelin Operational Marketing Manager David Graden, Michelin has several agriculture tires to choose from with varying widths to fit your management system.

“My personal favorite is the Michelin VF480/80R50 Spraybibs tire — it offers a gigantic carrying capacity of more than 17,000 pounds,” Graden said. “With a section width of 19.1 inches, the VF480/80R50 Spraybibs will give you the floatation and traction you need at the proper air pressures, and it will also fit down your 30-inch rows later in the season. Plus, with this tire option there is no need to store a second set of floater tires for your sprayer.”

Graden also stressed that as with any tire, the best results are seen at the proper air pressure.

“It is imperative you check your sprayer tires and set the proper air pressure for the load and speed of your machine,” Graden said. “If proper air pressure is not set, you risk yield damaging soil compaction while in wet fields. Every Michelin Ag sales rep carries a set of scales in their truck. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your local Michelin Ag dealer to ask for help setting these air pressures.”

>> Need help finding your recommended tire pressure? Try the Michelin Pressure Calculator.

Bottom line: Apache Sprayer owners have a variety of factory-installed options from both Michelin and Titan brands — ranging from a narrow 12.6-inch tire to a much wider 30.5-inch flotation tire.

>> Looking for more tire options? Read more: “Tire Options More Critical in Wet Fields

2) Ensure your ag sprayer’s wet system is fully functioning.

Make sure your ag sprayer’s wet system is in top condition before entering a soggy field. This will minimize the time your machine is in the field by preventing the need for a respray in areas that received insufficient herbicide on previous passes.

“The booms and nozzle strainers should be clean and free of any sediment build up, so you get the correct and optimum spray pressure,” Hurt said. “Nozzles typically don’t cause many problems, but strainers are a different story. With booms managed in sections, there’s a strainer for each boom section, and it’s here where clogging is sometimes more likely to occur.”

>> Bonus content: “Strainer Maintenance and Why They Should Be Replaced

3) Use a decisive attitude in the field.

“If you come to a large wet area, you need to commit to either going through it or driving around it,” Hurt said. “You can’t go halfway and change your mind. That’s how sprayers get stuck.”

4) Last but not least — own an Apache Sprayer.

Compared to hydrostat-type sprayers, the lighter weight and mechanical drive of an Apache Sprayer will make them less likely to bog down in mud and cause subsequent soil compaction. With Apache’s unique construction, 70 percent of the sprayer’s weight resides over the rear tires while transferring 90 percent of its horsepower directly to the ground.

>>  Need more proof of Apache’s unmatched traction and Power-to-the-GroundTM technology? Check out the Apache YouTube channel for more testimonials and demo videos.

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Equipment Technologies 20-Year Spotlight: Jeff Goodman

From startup to industry leader: 20 years at Equipment Technologies

Equipment Technologies was in many ways a startup when Jeff Goodman started with the company in January 1999. In the 20 years since, Goodman has been a big part of evolving the company’s production and manufacturing systems, as well as capabilities to meet growing demand for self-propelled sprayers. Though those early days trial by fire, he’s helped guide production, purchasing and manage the manufacturing process that today yields some of the most efficient, productive sprayers on the land.

“Like any startup, we were doing a lot of learning and refining our processes in the early days,” Goodman said of Equipment Technologies’ early days. “Over the years, we added a lot of structure and let our people shine and take care of business.”

Today, Goodman is Director of Materials, managing the entire supply chain for Equipment Technologies.  A big part of ETs success through the years has been its ability to outsource instead of building everything in house.  For the outsource model to work, suppliers must understand their role in the product and the importance of delivering a reliable part, at a fair price on time, every time.  Pulling this all together is no small feat and Goodman is quick to point out that it takes a great team for it to all work in harmony.

“We have a lot of long-term employees. We have a high percentage of 20-year employees, and the company’s only 23 years old,” Goodman said. “We have four or five people here who have more seniority than I do and that really says something about this place. We don’t have a lot of turnover. We get to know one another really well and all share the desire to do a good job for our customers. I want them to be happy, and the more I can do to provide them a quality product, the better I can help make them happy.”

Goodman approaches his work with both a passion to serve his customers and a hard-nosed drive to be productive, both traits he sees in many of his colleagues responsible for manufacturing Apache Sprayers. He knows that ultimately, one day he’ll pass off the reins of manufacturing and purchasing to another team member but is confident the company will continue to evolve to effectively meet customers’ changing needs well into the future.

Though he still has some time before he reaches that point, Goodman said he hasn’t really thought much about retirement. But, he says he’ll know when he’s ready.

“I probably at some point will ride off into the sunset. Do I want to be doing this at 70? Probably not. Would I be willing to do something else to help the company? Yes. I definitely won’t be happy sitting on the beach with an umbrella drink,” he said. “To be honest with you, I haven’t really thought about it much. I am not worried about it. I can’t change yesterday and tomorrow’s not here yet. That’s how I approach every day.”

 

Read more about Equipment Technologies team members here.

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Equipment Technologies 20-Year Spotlight: Carl McFarland

Carl McFarland: Celebrating 20 years of hard work and the right team

If you’ve purchased, operated or worked on an Apache Sprayer in the last 20 years, there’s a good chance you’ve inspected some of Carl McFarland’s work.

McFarland began working on the assembly line at Equipment Technologies in 1999 when the company’s manufacturing facility was located near the airport in Indianapolis, Indiana. At first, he saw the job as a way to do what he loved — working in manufacturing and playing a role in providing machinery for hard-working farmers — but he soon saw it was about much more than just the work. It was, and remains 20 years later, all about the people.

“I believe when you have a group of people who work well together, it is just awesome. You can get a lot of work done and have a good time doing it when you’re with the right people. The people here make me want to get up and go to work every morning,” McFarland said. “It makes me feel good when I’ve finished a day’s work and I can look at what I’ve helped build. Apache Sprayers are great products, and I am proud to say I help make them.”

Helping the company in the early days took a lot of hard work, McFarland said, but it’s that work ethic — a common thread among Equipment Technologies employees and leaders — that makes the company a unique place.

“The company went through some hard times, as all successful company’s do, but everybody worked hard,” he said. “Because it’s such a great place to work, everybody seems to want to work hard to help keep the company moving forward.”

McFarland is a man who values a hard day’s work, a job well done and contributing to a high-quality product that helps the customer do his or her job well. It’s reflected not just in the work he does every day — which over the years has covered the manufacturing and assembly of everything including sprayer frame rails, crossmembers, rear ends, fuel tanks, cabs and booms — but also how he wants to be remembered one day when he decides to retire. That day is not anywhere near, though, he says.

“I hope when I retire that people remember me as a hard worker and someone really nice to work with because I truly love working here,” McFarland said.

Read more about Equipment Technologies team members here.

 

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THE ESSENTIAL SECOND STEP IN SPRAYER WINTERIZATION

Ensuring your Apache Sprayer is thoroughly cleaned and free of any chemical residue is a major part of winterizing your machine. But, that’s just half of the equation when it comes to making sure your sprayer is ready for winter. Once all systems are free of chemical, it’s important to add antifreeze to prevent any damage ice can cause in tanks, hoses, nozzles and other components that can lead to headaches for the operator during the application season next year.

 

The first step in this process is to gather the appropriate quantity of antifreeze in manageable containers. The average application system will require 30-40 gallons of antifreeze for the product tank, around 10-12 gallons for the rinse tank and 2-3 gallons for the eductor tank. The containers you’re using will dictate where you will add the antifreeze to the product tank system; if you’re using 1 or 5 gallon jugs, you’ll add the antifreeze to the top of the tank. For a bulk system, it will be added via an attachment to the valve on the side of the product tank.

 

Even though they are all ultimately connected, each circuit – product, eductor and rinse tank – should be individually rinsed and filled with antifreeze when winterizing the machine. It’s important to watch closely to make sure you’re running enough antifreeze through each system to ensure cleanliness and winter preparedness, according to Apache Sprayers Senior Application Specialist John Casebolt.

 

“I want to set up PWM to 100 percent, that way I’m producing all the flow it can produce in order to get flow through the product system through the ball valves and out the nozzle control valves,” he said. “I want to switch my nozzle PWM to 100 percent, then go to manual mode, turn on my master spray switch, then I’ll turn the boom sections on one at a time. I will watch my booms spray until I’m satisfied with a solid, consistent spray of antifreeze fluid coming from the nozzles. Once I’ve done that, I can then move on to the second section and so on.”

 

Casebolt recommended allowing at least two minutes of spray time for each boom section to enable enough antifreeze to move through and remove any water or chemical remaining in the tanks and booms.

 

Each circuit includes different functions important to address in winterizing your sprayer. For example, the product circuit features an agitation function, and it’s important to engage it in flushing the system with antifreeze.

 

“Since we’ll have the product pump running on the machine when winterizing it, I’ll turn on the main sump valve so it’s not running dry,” Casebolt said. “I’ll turn my Rotorflush valve to agitation, then turn on my product pump and it will begin running and moving product through. Then I’ll open up my agitation valve, so I can begin to get that antifreeze flowing through that valve and the tank and agitation tubing. I’ll allow it to circulate for two or three minutes — enough time to get any remaining water purged out, flushed into the tank and have that agitation circuit completely full of antifreeze.”

 

The same is true with the machine’s Rotorflush circuit as well as the chemical eductor circuit. Each has unique components that are essential to address in making sure you’re adequately winterizing your Apache Sprayer.

 

Once your sprayer is adequately cleaned and has the necessary antifreeze to prevent damage from freezing temperatures over the winter, it’s time to turn your attention to other components that can be damaged during the winter.

 

 

Hear more from Casebolt on how to add antifreeze to preserve your application circuits here, or move on to our third winterization video for the final steps.

 

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DON’T NEGLECT THESE THREE COMPONENTS DURING SPRAYER WINTERIZATION

Though the major components of a sprayer – product system, rinse loop, agitation and inductor loops – deserve much of the attention during the winterization process, it’s important not to neglect other parts and components that are important to the machine’s operation during the growing season. And, the right winterization now can prevent costly and time-consuming breakdowns and delays when it’s time to spray next year.

 

Once you’ve winterized your sprayer’s application system, there are other components to attend to before you put the machine away for its winter nap. Any gauges and controllers should be part of the winterization process, said Apache Sprayers Senior Application Specialist John Casebolt.

 

Pressure system gauges

If your Apache Sprayer is equipped with pressure system gauges, it’s important to ensure both the boom pressure gauge and the agitation pressure gauge are first disconnected, then cleaned and prepared similar to the process for the product system. Look for the gauges on the right front corner of the Apache cab, and make sure the plumbing running to and from the gauges is properly rinsed, dried and winterized with antifreeze, according to Casebolt.

 

“Unplug each one of those gauges, leave the tubing hanging freely and run some antifreeze through that tubing to flush out any of the water and chemical that might be in there,” he said. “Then, go ahead and reconnect the tubing, but we’re going to remove the gauges, so we don’t have trouble if they freeze up. We’re going to take those gauges off the machine, store them in a warm, dry place and we’re going to plug the ports where they plug into, so we don’t get dirt or debris in them in the wintertime if the machine’s going to be stored outside.”

 

Strainers

Though they’re small components, strainers can add up to a lot of headaches during the growing season if not attended to in the offseason, including when winterizing your sprayer. It’s best to first drain and clean strainers, then store them off the machine in a warm, dry location to avoid damage from freezing temperatures

 

“Drain down the Y-strainer and boom valve strainers on the back of the machine,” Casebolt said. “That way, we can remove those strainers and put them in a bucket of clean water or tank-cleaning solvent to try to clean those strainers up during the wintertime.”

 

Product system controllers

In-cab electronic controllers should also be removed when winterizing your sprayer, especially if stored in a cold location. Current systems available in Apache Sprayers, like the Raven Viper® 4 product pump control or 600S GPS receiver, can withstand cold temperatures, but it’s best to store such electronic equipment in a warm, dry place, as temperature fluctuations can sometimes damage internal components.

“Come spring time, we’ll plug it back in and the settings should be retained, and we should be ready to go,” Casebolt said.

 

For more information on winterizing your Apache Sprayer, consult your owner’s manual or contact your local dealer.

 

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PREPARE YOUR SPRAYER APPLICATION LOOPS FOR WINTER

Your Apache Sprayer has worked hard during the growing season to perform a critical role. Now, it’s time to make sure it’s prepared for a winter nap, so when it’s time to spray next season, your machine is ready to go.

 

Winterizing your sprayer is important to keep your sprayer functioning optimally in the long run. That process starts with ensuring your machine is clean, dry and free of any chemical that could become a harmful residual when it’s time to begin spraying again. A thorough clean-out helps prevent component damage from residual chemical and ensures you can spend your time in the field, not in the shop, when it’s more of the essence during the growing season.

 

The more immediate reason for a thorough cleanout of any sprayer is to prevent water and any residual chemical from causing damage by freezing inside tanks, booms and other components. Though the actual process is fairly straightforward, it’s important to make sure all five of an Apache Sprayer’s application loops are clean and dry, according to Apache Sprayers Senior Application Specialist John Casebolt:

  • Product system
  • Agitation circuit
  • Rinse circuit
  • Vent circuit
  • Eductor system

 

“The product system is the loop that involves product tank, pump, plumbing going from pump to booms and the ball valve. It’s the main product system. The second is agitation circuit — the agitation valve and agitation plumbing in bottom of tank. The third is the rinse circuit, our agitation roto clutch valve as well as plumbing that goes to roto clutch nozzles in the top of the product tank,” Casebolt said. “The fourth is vent circuit — that will take care of itself since it’s an open line that goes to top of product tank. But, recognize that you need antifreeze flowing to that system as well. The fifth system is the eductor. If your sprayer is equipped with a chemical eductor, you want to winterize that properly so you won’t have freezing problems with it.”

 

Casebolt recommended purging any remaining water and chemical from the systems by using an air compressor. Using an adapter to connect the air nozzle directly to the sprayer’s main intake, he said it’s easy to send air through the system at between 40 and 60 PSI, ensuring that ball valves are opened and closed to propel air through the system without building excessive pressure.

 

If your sprayer is equipped with an automatic control system, like the Raven HawkeyeTM system available on Apache Sprayers, it’s important to switch the system to manual mode so you can open and close valves manually as you work through each component and boom section.

 

Once you’ve completely purged the system of water and chemical, the next step in the process is adding antifreeze, which will keep lines and other components from freezing during the winter.

 

See more from Casebolt on how to properly rinse and dry out your sprayer’s application loops in the video below.

 

Posted in Ask the Application Specialists, Maintain Your Sprayer | Leave a comment
 

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