Solutions to Sprayer Nozzle Issues Before You Have Them

Whether you are top dressing wheat or doing pre-plant herbicide applications, there are a few things to remember when servicing sprayer nozzles and tips. To help our customers solve some of the most prevalent problems in the field, the Apache Sprayer team got together with additional experts within the industry to gather the best tips for nozzle care throughout the year.

Quick Tips for Sprayer Nozzle Maintenance

Start the season by running clean water through the sprayer and at the end of each spraying day, to thoroughly clean the spray tips. Chemicals will eventually gum up the tip and cause uneven spray patterns or, worse, plug the tip completely. Always use water or compressed air to clean a spray tip. Using sharp objects such as a pocket knife or a piece of wire will cause damage to the tip. With proper care, you can extend the life of spray tips significantly.

“Most problems with spray tips are a result of a lack of maintenance and calibration,” said TeeJet Technologies Manufacturer Representative, Bryan Fowler. “Taking a close look at the spray pattern for consistency and distribution across the boom will alert you to the problem sooner and help you avoid poor application results. Many times, it can be difficult to look at a tip and actually see a problem.”

Sprayer Nozzle Tests and Checks

Fowler suggests performing a catch test on a few of the tips to better analyze the issue. A catch test uses a catch cup over the nozzle to measure output and flow rates.

“It is a good practice to perform a catch test on a few of the tips; if a few are out of specification by more than 10 percent, then it is time to replace them,” Fowler said. “This means that a tip that is rated to spray 0.4 GPM (ex. XR8004) at 40 psi is actually spraying 0.45 GPM, it should be replaced. If more than a few tips on the boom are performing this way, all of the tips on the boom are probably worn and will need to be replaced.”

It’s very hard to detect nozzle wear by sight alone as there can be very little evidence of wear. Greenleaf Technologies Regional Sales Manager William Smart agrees that nozzle checks are an essential part of upkeep, but also stresses the use of strains and boom height adjustments to prevent malfunctions.

The Importance of Nozzle Cleaning

“Nozzles need to be protected from plugging through the use of strainers upstream of the nozzle,” Smart said. “But even with proper straining, nozzles can sometimes plug. Nozzles that come apart easily (without the need for tools) and that have visible metering orifices will speed up the cleaning process. Air, water and the occasional broom straw or toothbrush is all that should be used for cleaning.”

Boom Height + Sprayer Nozzle Correlations

Smart says boom height is also important to create a uniform distribution of the spray with your selected nozzle.

“A good rule of thumb for 110-degree nozzles is matching the nozzle spacing to the boom height,” Smart said. “So, for 20-inch spacing, a minimum 20-inch boom height will ensure uniformity along the length of the boom. Keeping the boom as close as possible to this target will also maximize coverage, penetration and drift control.”

Do you have another common nozzle issue? Tell us about it in the comments below! Need help nozzle selection?

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