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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