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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

Introducing our new Pacific Northwest Regional Director: Cam Sweeney

New Regional Director - Cam Sweeney

Equipment Technologies Regional Director takes on new role with familiar equipment

Cam Sweeney steps into his new role as regional director for Equipment Technologies in the Pacific Northwest with a definite opinion and strong understanding of the machines. And he’s looking forward to applying that passion and knowledge to his new role.

“I sold Apache Sprayers for about seven years. It was my favorite product to sell,” said Sweeney, who joins the ET Sprayers team after working for the cooperative Morrow County Grain Growers in north-central Oregon. As Regional Director, he works with Apache Sprayer dealers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, California, Utah and Nevada.

For Sweeney, the Apache and Bruin Sprayers are a good fit for both him in his new role with the company as well as the farmers he services through the network of dealers for whom he provides sales and support resources in his seven-state territory. Apache and Bruin Sprayers appeal to his area’s farmers for reasons ranging from the machinery itself to the culture of the overall company, both at the corporate and dealer levels.

“Their service is really great and people like the small-town feel of the company. My customers feel like they are taken care of really well,” Sweeney said. “They appreciate the overall value of ET Sprayers in terms of what they pay for them, what they get out of them and what they get when they go to trade one in for a new Apache.”

The new Equipment Technology Regional Director who lives in Heppner, Oregon, said he’s looking forward to sharing the ET Sprayers story with more dealers and potential customers. He anticipates growth in the number of machines sold in his region as more producers learn about the simplicity, effectiveness and longevity of ET Sprayers.

“Farmers know that when they go to start it up, it’s going to get their spraying job done. It’s all about having confidence in that sprayer and knowing if something does happen, it’s going to get fixed quickly,” Sweeney said. “That’s what makes it so great working with this company. They have the knowledge and expertise and everyone knows so much that they do such a great job getting a machine back up and running if something goes down.”

“I just want to keep sprayers moving. That’s my primary goal,” he said. “I want to keep sprayers spraying and keep customers and dealers happy.”

When he’s not working with Equipment Technologies, you can usually find Sweeney spending time with his 4- and 6-year-old sons, bow hunting or fishing for steelhead, bass or salmon in the Columbia River region.

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Meet Carlisle Ag Centre – our newest Canadian dealer

New Apache Dealer - Carlisle Ag Centre

Reliability, hands-on approach make Apache Sprayers a good fit for Manitoba dealer

Darrel Carlisle provides equipment, inputs and services that his customers need, so when the opportunity arose to become an Apache Sprayers Dealer for Equipment Technologies, he knew it would be a good fit for his dealership in Southwest Manitoba.


Why Apache Sprayers

“In this neck of the woods the farm size is still about 3,000 to 10,000 acres and they’re very much hands-on, family-run operations,” said Carlisle, who operates fertilizer retailer Carlisle Liquid Starters and OK Tire, both in Carroll, Manitoba. “Apache Sprayers are perfect for this area because of the economics and efficiency of the machines. They fit in with the number of acres my customers cover. It’s huge for me to be able to bring these efficient machines to my customers.”

Carlisle started his fertilizer business in 2005, offering liquid starter and in-furrow fertilizer catering to the soil and crop fertility needs of the area’s primarily grain farms. Carlisle, a farmer himself, later added an OK Tire franchise at the same location and is looking to establish Apache Sprayers as a major line of equipment for farmers in the 80-mile radius his businesses serve.

“Apache Sprayers is one of the lines we wanted to get back into this area and make it our primary equipment line,” said Carlisle, “We want our guys to see that the Apache Sprayers line is very economical and reliable.”



Simple, yet advanced machinery makes it easy for farmers to maintain

Part of what makes Apache Sprayers such a good fit in his area is their relatively simple and straightforward components that make maintenance more manageable. As digital technology has become more prevalent in farm machinery over the last decade, it’s made what’s historically been largely mechanical work more of an exercise in technology management. In some cases, that’s made it difficult for some maintenance technicians to continue to maintain high levels of service for farmers. In the case of Apache Sprayers, Carlisle sees the right balance of conventional mechanics and technology to the ultimate benefit of his customers who operate the machines.

“These machines aren’t completely full of electronics that make maintenance issues difficult to diagnose. They’re farmer-friendly to maintain. While the service techs can do as much today with a laptop as they could do previously with a wrench, these machines are easy to work on with features like mechanical drive,” Carlisle said.

That evolution of farm equipment like sprayers, though posing a challenge, has created new service realities that enable dealers like Carlisle to better serve his customers. Even though it can sometimes require building trust in newer technology among some customers, Carlisle said new technology — especially functions like remote monitoring — can enable his service technicians to provide better service in many cases, fulfilling an important promise he makes to his customers.


Hands-on dealership support when customers need it most

 “Some farmers and techs feel like the technology’s outgrown them and they don’t understand it. That makes getting the right people difficult, but very important,” Carlisle said. “With some of this technology, our tech can tie into a sprayer using GPS and make sure things are set up right without even going out to the farm in some cases. It’s definitely helped us from a labor standpoint, and we’re able to create new efficiencies for our customers. It’s just about getting everybody to understand how these systems work. We’re starting to see the benefits of it.”

It’s that shared priority of efficiency — as well as a hands-on approach to working with sprayers — that Carlisle sees as a common bond he shares with Equipment Technologies and Apache Sprayers staff and leaders. Those are just a few of the reasons why he sees a bright future in connecting his customers with Apache Sprayers, both in the short and long terms.

“They understand the equipment and they’re there to help make a sale or keep customers happy. That’s something you don’t see with bigger companies these days. You don’t get that hands-on approach like you do with Apache Sprayers. That’s huge for us and for our customers,” Carlisle said. “Five years from now, we want to have shown our customers the value of Apache Sprayers and show them that they have an option that’s way more affordable and as reliable as the red, green or blue options out there.”

Both their shared philosophies as well as the enthusiasm to introduce Apache Sprayers to a new customer base in Southwest Manitoba are also shared between both Carlisle and the team at Equipment Technologies, and the new business relationship is likely to pay strong dividends, with farmer-customers being the ultimate benefactors, said Matt Hays, CEO of Equipment Technologies.

“We have a lot in common with Darrel and the whole team at Carlisle,” Hays said. “We’re looking forward to having them join our network of dealers, and we’re excited to serve the area’s farmers with efficient and reliable Apache Sprayers.”



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Sprayer Year-End Savings Incentives

End of Year Savings You Don’t Want to Miss

Is a self-propelled sprayer on your farm’s machinery shopping list this year? If that’s the case, a combination of year-end pricing and tax incentives means there’s no better time to buy than right now.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering bonus depreciation for business-related expenses under Section 179 of the tax code. In the 11 years since its inception, Section 179 has helped businesses deduct the full purchase price of machinery, software and other business-related tools (up to a certain amount) from gross income. For farmers, it applies to common machinery and equipment they need for their operation, including self-propelled sprayers.

This year, Section 179 bonus depreciation will allow business owners to deduct 100% of the financed purchase price of related expenses up to $1 million. Section 179 depreciation is based on adjusted gross income.

“Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the full purchase price from your gross income,” according to “It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves.”

On top of Section 179 bonus depreciation, Apache Sprayers is offering a $5,000 bonus on any new 2019 AS1040 or AS1240 sprayer financed by the end of 2018. Put together with the Apache Sprayers $5,000 bonus, it can net considerable savings in the first year of a financing program.

Want to learn about all of the $5,000 cash-back offer details? Get started here.

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Team Apache 20-Year Spotlight: Tim Stamper

Team Apache - Tim Stamper 20-year journey

Tim Stamper: ‘Love What You Do, Do What You Love’

Just about every Apache Sprayer to roll off the assembly line has been influenced by Tim Stamper’s design and manufacturing expertise. It’s been a labor of love in the 20 years he’s been part of the Equipment Technologies (ET) team.

Stamper became a fabricator and designer for Apache Sprayers in early 1999, around the same time when some of the first machines were being manufactured. Since then, he’s held a host of positions with ET and has been responsible not only for the evolution of Apache Sprayers, but the distribution of the machines — and the parts critical to their operation — to farmer customers around North America.

After moving into engine/transmission, frame and axle production and assembly in 2004, Stamper took on expanded roles including purchasing of sprayers and parts from 2007-2012. In 2013, he took on a leadership role in inventory management and product verification, assisting in the implementation of a new barcoding system to better manage sprayers and parts. Five years later, he’s moved to a customer facing role as Application Parts Specialist.

“We have grown the efficiency in our manufacturing processes over the years,” Stamper said of the 20 years he’s been part of the ET team. “We have established a consistent base product with a sharp focus on the industry, what our customer needs and demands.”

The Apache Sprayers team has grown in numbers in that time, too, an effort that’s been boosted by the company’s culture, Stamper said. “Embracing technology and improving production processes are important, but the people [here] have made that growth and evolution happen.”

“The dedication to and focus on building sprayers, while not taking shots at other products, has helped us to grow as a company. Matt Hays, CEO of ET, has said many times ‘In good and bad, keep our focus on what we do and be the best at it!’” Stamper said.

Twenty years at one company is a considerable accomplishment in today’s workforce, but to Stamper, it’s not a major feat for one main reason–it rarely feels like work.

“Rarely have I ever dreaded coming into work. Every day is a new challenge, the people here are great and the management has always been understanding and helpful. We have fun, or at least try to,” Stamper said. “Long ago, I realized that work life is the biggest part of your waking life, so you better enjoy it.”

The future for Stamper is fairly clear. He wants to continue to leverage his skills and experience to produce industry-leading Apache Sprayers. Given the diversity of his career path at ET in his first 20 years at the company, he’s not sure what exactly that will mean. But, he’ll always retain the approach to his work that not only is important to his individual job, but the entire company.

“All I know is that I plan to be here tomorrow and then on, doing what they ask me to do. With each new role I’ve been approached with, my response has been ‘how can I best suit the company?’ We’ll just see where they can utilize me next,” Stamper said. “I don’t really think about what I want my legacy here to be, but I guess it would be caring about the quality of work you do, enjoy doing it and helping out whenever and however you can. ‘Love what you do and do what you love.’”


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Dusty Fields & Filters

Dusty Fields and Filter Maintenance

Maximize sprayer productivity with proper filter maintenance

They are usually inexpensive and not the first thing you think about when conducting routine maintenance on your Apache Sprayer. But, when you operate in dry, dusty conditions, filters are an especially important element to keeping your sprayer well-maintained. That’s particularly true considering the cost of the damage poorly maintained filters can cause down the road.

Today’s modern filters are light years ahead of those in the past. More advanced designs and materials make air filters more effective in trapping dust and dirt that would otherwise reach critical system components and inflict damage. But, because they’re so much more effective and working in much more efficient engines today, they require more attention during routine maintenance, according to Apache Sprayers Senior Application Specialist John Casebolt.

“With modern engines, especially Tier 4, we’re actually doing more filtration than we used to. Filter systems are high-efficiency units, which means we’re going to clean the air better before it gets to the engine,” he said. “Those filters tend to become contaminated and plug more quickly, and people who have been running some of the older equipment with older engines and filtration systems aren’t accustomed to checking them as often as they should.”

Staying attentive to filters

Working in dry, dusty conditions can accelerate wear on filters simply by virtue of the volume of sediment they’re filtering, as well as the heat that typically accompanies that kind of intake. But, generally, there are other signs your filters are clogged or not performing optimally. Sometimes they’re the first thing to watch for in diagnosing filters that are nearing the end of their operational lives.

“All components are going to get dirtier working in hot, dusty conditions, and you need to clean out filters more frequently to prevent engine performance issues,” Casebolt said. “If it’s hot and your A/C system isn’t working, the air filter for your cab needs to be cleaned out more frequently, too. Keep your eye on these types of things when working with more dust.”

Cleaning filters

When cleaning air filters, it’s important to do so in a way that doesn’t alter or damage its structure or shape. It may be tempting to either knock dry sediments loose from the filter or use an air compressor that will get more of the loose material than cleaning by hand. These are likely overkill, though, and stand to potentially damage the filter worse than simply wiping the excess dust and sediment away gently by hand.

“If you try to clean it out with compressed air, it has to be done with low pressure and from the inside out so you don’t damage the fleece or paper in the filter,” Casebolt said. “Some people just grab an air hose at 100 or 120 PSI that you could blow something across the room with. I don’t think that’s wise because there can be more damage done to an air filter doing that than what they’ll gain. My recommendation is to clean it by hand and just get the loose stuff out of it.”

Tech tools help

The good news is that modern equipment, like an Apache Sprayer, typically has on-board diagnostics and warning systems that alert the operator when a filter’s performance is slowing down or being altered in a way that affects overall performance. But, don’t use those warning systems as the primary means of diagnosing filter issues.

“I’m not a fan of depending on those safeguards as a means of determining when I’m going to change my filter,” Casebolt said. “They’re there to warn us in those situations where it’s gotten a lot dustier than we realize, but by the time the warning goes off, I should have already checked my filter instead of running as long as I have with it in that condition.”

Casebolt recommends changing air filters at least once a year, or every 250 hours of operation, whichever comes first. For those who don’t operate that many hours in a season, it’s still important to change filters annually.

“Some will hit that 250-hour mark in a season, and some will hit 500 hours. For some operators, a filter will last an entire season, but for others, they’ll be changing it twice or three times a year,” he said. “If you run a filter too long, you are sacrificing engine performance, so you need to be proactive in changing them.”

Plan ahead

Though it’s not common among farmers today, keeping a basic supply of filters on hand is a good idea, Casebolt said. If you have a replacement already on hand for when a filter needs to be swapped out, you can minimize the time to do the job. During the off-season, that may not be that big of a deal. But, during spraying season when time is money, it can be huge.

“I’m in favor of operators planning ahead and not just buying what they need to service the machine right now, but getting what they will need for the next service. If they plan on putting 250 hours on a machine in a year, I would plan for that and have those filters on the shelf so I’m not spending precious time during the season waiting on filters to arrive or spending time trying to track them down,” Casebolt said. “Filters are consumables. It’s not like you are buying extra parts to sit on the shelf and maybe have to use. You are going to have to use them.”

Looking to purchase filters for your Apache Sprayer? Head to our parts store.

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Testing Spray Tip Nozzles for Wear

Testing Spray Tip Nozzles for Wear

Regular testing prevents crop damage from worn sprayer tip nozzles

Tip nozzles are among the least expensive components of a modern sprayer, but underestimating their importance and being lax with maintenance can quickly get costly. That makes it critical to test them and ensure they’re functioning properly before beginning a busy spraying season.

Why nozzle testing matters

Why is testing tip nozzles so important? A clogged or damaged nozzle can alter spray patterns, and depending on the chemical you’re applying, can have major implications for your crop, both in growth and weed/pest control.

“Think about how many dollars per acre you are spending on chemical. With the price of chemicals, you want those nozzles to do their jobs. When they get worn, they lose their pattern and you start getting droplets in different places,” according to Apache Sprayers Service Technician and Application Parts Specialist Chris Weaver. “You run the risk of overapplication, spray drift and streaking in the field. The more worn your nozzles get, the worse it is going to be. If you’re spraying herbicide, weeds will be worse in those areas.”

Testing your tip nozzles begins by knowing your nozzle size, spray pattern and the volume for which they’re rated. Having a firm grasp on these variables will help determine exactly how they should be optimally performing based on the required 40-PSI pressure. That pressure information is critical to have on hand when manually testing tip nozzles, Weaver said.

Nozzle testing methods

Measuring the output of each tip for nozzle wear and tear is the basic testing procedure for justifying replacement, and there are both manual and automated (via rate controllers) ways to do so. If done manually, which typically gives the operator a better feel for the condition of his or her nozzles, Weaver recommends using a metering bucket, calibration jug or other container that can measure specific output levels for each nozzle. Once the system reaches 40 PSI, each tip should emit a specific amount of liquid. Weaver recommends testing each nozzle for either 30 seconds or one minute, though the longer you test, the more accurate your nozzles and spray pattern will be.

This is where nozzle size comes in; the size dictates the amount of output per tip, and if that output is greater than that specified amount, the nozzle is likely to be damaged or worn. That means it should be replaced soon to prevent inconsistent and potentially damaging applications.

“If you have an XR11002 spray nozzle, that’s a 0.2-gallon-per-minute nozzle rated at 40 PSI. You should get 0.2 gallons of spray per minute per nozzle. If you are at 40 PSI and you’re getting 0.25 gallons/minute, you have a worn nozzle,” Weaver said. “There are also tip calibrators that have flow meters built into them. You hold one under a nozzle and it will tell you your gallons per minute.”

When to test nozzles

Testing your sprayer’s tip nozzles is something that should be done at least once a year, starting when you perform pre-season maintenance on your machine. How often you need to actually replace your nozzles depends on use and nozzle type.

“If you use polymer nozzles, they’ll likely last around 15,000 acres before needing to be replaced, whereas stainless steel nozzles will last up to 25,000 acres,” Weaver said. “But, given the simplicity and brevity of the process, especially when performing regular preseason maintenance, thoroughly testing nozzles is the best way to find out their condition and replace them if necessary.”

“It’s something that’s so easy to do when you’re getting your sprayer ready for the season. You are already spending a good amount of time getting your sprayer ready in the spring,” Weaver said. “It literally takes one minute per nozzle or less to do it.”

To prevent further wear and tear on your nozzles, be sure to reference our Nozzle Maintenance 101 Guide.


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Calibrating ZF Transmissions

Calibrating ZF Transmissions

Calibration keeps your ZF transmission shifting smoothly

When Apache Sprayers transitioned to the ZF transmissions for the 2011 sprayer model year, operators had access to a new way to boost fuel economy and performance in the field through features like a locking torque converter.

Like any drivetrain component, ZF transmissions require regular maintenance to perform optimally. Though it is fairly automated and offers a lot of safety features to simplify and streamline the process, it’s important to go through calibration at least once per season to ensure components are protected and the transmission is shifting smoothly, said Apache Sprayers Application Specialist Chris Smith. Many operators calibrate their ZF transmissions when performing routine service and fluid changes.

“The process keeps everything within the recommended specifications, because over time, things are going to start wearing out. It helps minimize typical wear and tear by reading and recalibrating new clutch pressures,” Smith said.

An automated process

When calibrating a ZF transmission in an Apache Sprayer, the machine’s on-board computer — tied to its transmission control unit (TCU) — essentially takes care of the process for you. After the operator runs the machine to get it to operating temperature — around 180 degrees Fahrenheit — the TCU runs a diagnostic check of all clutch pressures and provides performance feedback.

The process helps the operator stay on top of potential maintenance issues like replacing the system’s 15W40 oil as needed. In newer Apache Sprayer models, the TCU helps manage operations to optimize performance under different conditions.

“With our new 30-series machines, we’ve reprogrammed the TCU to where you can spray better in the 3rd- to 4th-gear range,” Smith said. “You can go into the TCU and change things like torque curves to accommodate the optimal speed and spraying speed and volume.”

Ultimately, ZF transmissions help operators not only stay on top of key maintenance schedules, but do so with the highest level of safety, given the number of safeguards the transmissions feature.

“You can’t do anything to tear it up, really,” Smith said. “There are so many safety features built in that, and with the ability to lock the torque converter, you can improve fuel efficiency and overall engine performance.”

Are you calibrating your ZF transmission as part of your annual maintenance schedule? See what else you should be doing on a yearly basis with our maintenance checklist. Start here.

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Cabin Filters and Why They Are Important

Cabin Filters: When Should You Replace?

Cabin filters do a lot more than keep you comfortable

Spraying agriculture chemicals can be a dirty and sometimes dangerous job. That makes it important to have an enclosed sprayer cab with a strong air filtration system, like today’s Apache Sprayers. Simply having a cabin filter system isn’t enough; it’s just as important to take the right steps to ensure it’s functioning properly, especially during the busiest time of year when farmers are spending a lot of hours in the cab.

A three-layer filter system
Apache Sprayers utilize a three-layer activated charcoal filter comprising a charcoal layer sandwiched between two paper layers with varying levels of filtration. The outer layer is pleated paper designed to catch the largest particles of dirt and dust from entering the middle layer comprising activated charcoal. The third inner-most layer is also paper, but is designed to catch finer particles that may have made it past the charcoal layer.

The lifespan of the filter layers

The cabin filter is designed to do more than just trap dust and dirt particles. The middle activated charcoal layer traps chemical fumes and odors that can sometimes be dangerous to the operator. Though the lifespan of the outer paper filter layers is typically based on the number of hours of operation, the charcoal filter’s efficacy over time is partially determined by the speed at which you operate your HVAC fan, according to Apache Sprayers Senior Application Specialist John Casebolt.

“Activated charcoal deteriorates more quickly with increased air volume,” he said. “If you’re running your fan on high speed all the time so you can feel the air in the cab, you’re pulling more air across the charcoal filter, so you will consume that more quickly.”

The reason for this deterioration is the charcoal’s contact with air in general. Activated charcoal’s long-term efficacy in preventing chemical fumes from entering the cab also depends on how the machine’s heating and air-conditioning system is used. If you crank up the A/C most of the time while you’re spraying, your charcoal filter’s lifespan will be adversely affected because of the increased airflow over the filter. Even when it’s not in operation, if the filter is installed and exposed to open air, it’s slowly losing long-term efficacy, Casebolt said. It’s an important factor to account for in how you store your filter during the off-season, just as much as accounting for how you operate during the season.

When to change your filter
Just as the machine’s A/C system can be the culprit of shorter cabin filter operating life, it can also be one of the first symptoms of a filter reaching the end of its life. When the filter stops working, it’s common for A/C systems to slow down or not function optimally.

When is the best time to change your cabin air filter? “If you start noticing chemical odors in the cab, then it’s time to take a look at that filter and see when it was changed last, because that activated charcoal begins to deactivate as soon as it’s exposed to air. It doesn’t deteriorate as much when it’s just sitting there versus when air is moving across it, but it does happen,” Casebolt said. If there aren’t noticeable performance issues, the cabin filter should be changed at least once a year, depending on overall use.

“Whether it’s more often than once a year depends on the hours on the machine and the conditions in which you’re running,” Casebolt added.

Storing and replacing the filters
Because activated charcoal starts deteriorating with any contact with the air, it’s also important to store filters in a way that minimizes that contact, thereby maximizing the functional life of filters containing the material, like Apache Sprayers cabin filters.

“When you buy filters, they come wrapped in plastic cellophane or something to prevent the air from getting to it even when it’s sitting on a shelf. It’s wrapped very well. I recommend putting a new filter on right before you start spraying. Get your sprayer ready during the off-season, but leave that charcoal filter wrapped up, set it on the seat and wait until right before you go to the field to put it in.”

Replacing cabin air filters is just one part of regular maintenance on an Apache Sprayer. Do you want more maintenance ideas? Start with our annual maintenance checklist.

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Pulse-Width Modulation Spraying

Pulse-Width Modulation

Spray smarter, save money with pulse-width modulation

Spray drift continues to be a big issue for chemical applicators, and it has led to the rise of digital spraying technology that utilizes pulse-width modulation (PWM). The new sprayer innovation, available on every Apache Sprayer through the Raven HawkeyeTM system, helps operators more efficiently apply chemicals and sustain environmental and crop quality by preventing spray drift.

Why Use PWM
When facing windy or inclement conditions but a spraying job must be done, the operator typically has to slow down the sprayer and back off application pressure. This is needed to effectively deliver chemical where it needs to without wind catching, taking it elsewhere and inflict damage to other crops or plants. Today’s PWM helps operators sustain more consistent field operations at speeds close to, or at the same level as, optimal conditions.

Pulse-width modulation isn’t the newest technology in the world. Some manufacturers have been offering the functionality for more than a decade, but more recent advancements, spurred by increased scrutiny of the chemical application sector, have made new systems more functional and efficient in controlling drift. In the last five years alone, issues with drift and increasing overall chemical and crop input costs have amplified interest and demand for digital spraying and PWM.

How PWM Works
Pulse-width modulation, like that in the Raven Hawkeye system, uses solenoids at each spray tip that open and close a valve at the nozzle tip that “pulses.” The pulse of the valves’ opening is consistent, with the valve opening once every 1/10 of a second, and spray volume and droplets are applied based on percentages of the modulation’s “duty cycle.” A 25% duty cycle in a PWM system would result in a lighter application that would ordinarily require a low pressure. A 75% duty cycle, on the other hand, would mean a higher application rate.

“At a 25% modulation, you’re only going to have that valve open 25% of the time when the nozzle is pulsing, so you’re going to have a lower flow rate. At 75%, you’re going to be open during much more of that pulse, so you will be applying more,” said Tyler Gordon, Apache Sprayers Service Specialist. “Adjusting the percentage of the duty cycle is how you increase or decrease your flow rate, all the while keeping the same pressure.”

“We actually hook these solenoids up near the check valve on each nozzle. The fluid reaches that check valve at the nozzle, and we can control the flow with that solenoid. Now, when we want to shut off the fluid flow, like when we enter an area that’s already been applied, we can instantly turn off some of the nozzles,” Gordon said. “You basically have 40 pounds of pressure at the nozzle tip at all times.”

Benefits of PWM
1. Consistent pressure
Through a sequence of valves constantly opening and closing, the system maintains more consistent pressure and makes adjustments via a central in-cab monitor based on operator adjustments accounting for weather conditions and map inputs. The system can also provide per-nozzle control, preventing spray overlap and allowing a higher level of application precision, and PWM allows more precise control of droplets even when running at ground speeds that would ordinarily prevent the required pressure from building to adequate levels for the chemical to reach its target plants.

2. More precision and flexibility
Pulse-width modulation makes it possible to eliminate the “run-down time” associated with conventional spray booms and nozzles, adding precision to the spraying process. It also provides operational flexibility, allowing the operator to spray at different speeds but maintaining the same coverage when conditions would otherwise keep the sprayer parked. Most importantly, it helps prevent spray drift since the pulse-width modulation helps better deliver chemical in a wider array of conditions – namely wind – without adjusting speeds or changing components. That, in turn, makes spraying operations more consistent and efficient by eliminating two factors that can add to overall spraying operations and their efficacy.

“If I want to spray at 30 PSI, PWM allows me to run anywhere from 8 to 16 MPH with the same nozzle tips and the pressure going through those tips will create the droplet sizes I need. It’s changing that duty cycle to hold 30 pounds of pressure at a wider range of ground speeds,” Gordon said. “The pressure going through that tip is what creates the droplet size of the chemical. Now, I can maximize my chemical applications by yielding a 500-micron droplet size more consistently, for example. The higher the droplet size, the more drift you might get.”

3. Spray no matter what the weather conditions
That’s the primary benefit of pulse-width modulation. It helps the operator avoid spray drift by applying larger droplet sizes more consistently – and at a wider range of speeds – through the adjustment percentages in the pulse-width modulation system, not the actual overall system pressure itself. But, that’s not the end of its benefits. It also allows the operator to spray in conditions that might otherwise prevent it because of wind or other issues that influence drift and sprayer ground speeds.

“Depending on the application, most operators are spraying at 40 pounds of pressure or so. If you get over a 10 MPH wind, most can’t spray or they have to slow way down,” Gordon said. “But with this system, you can turn pressure down to 20 PSI and reduce drift yet continue to spray at the same speed.”

Specifics of the Raven Hawkeye
Other benefits come in the design of the Raven Hawkeye system. Because it manages sprayer booms in sections, the system creates up to 16 “virtual boom sections” that help precisely manage applications by providing shutoff capabilities through the solenoids and valves that otherwise manage each tip’s pulse modulation.

“A lot of farmers who operate a lot of large, square fields don’t think that they need that level of precision, and they may not need that level of precision. But, if you don’t farm a single square field, you can see up to a 15% savings on chemical,” Gordon said. “If you add that up over the five-year average life of a sprayer, that could be thousands of dollars in chemical savings. That’s what I have heard from farmers who have operated the Raven Hawkeye system for a year.”

Those cost savings are likely to be a mainstay on operations utilizing PWM, especially as Apache Sprayers continue integrating more technology as it develops in the future. In the end, it will remain critical for farmers to focus on connecting their uptake of new tools like pulse-width modulation with overall operational efficiency.

“The bottom line is it comes down to dollars and cents,” Gordon said. “You almost always know, in the ballpark, how many bushels of corn or soybeans you’re going to get out of your fields every year. It just always comes down to reducing input costs and making your spraying operations more efficient is one way to do it.”

Looking to upgrade your sprayer precision? Find out more about Raven Hawkeye and other precision options with Apache Sprayers.

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