What Safety Precautions Must You Follow When Using a Boom Sprayer?
Date Posted: 27 February 2023
If you’ve made the decision to spray pesticide over your pastures, you’ll need to know how to safely use a boom sprayer so that you can reap the best possible results. So, here is our guide on everything you need to know about using and maintaining your boom spraying equipment!
Why Is It Important to Use Your Boom Sprayer Safely?
Since we are dealing with chemicals, proper and safe spraying practices are a must. Safe operating practices will ensure that you achieve both the desired spray coverage and efficacy while keeping off-target movement of pesticides to a minimum. This will help avoid under- or over-application of pesticides and ineffective coverage. As a result, you will be able to protect yourself, and the surrounding property, livestock and other people from coming to harm. Furthermore, by learning how to safely use your boom sprayer, you will be able to get the most out of them and see significant results when it comes to weed, insect and disease control throughout the growing season.
Starting Things Off Safe: Picking the Right Boom Sprayer
When picking an agriculture boom sprayer, selecting the correct sprayer nozzle is one of the first steps for safe practice. The spray nozzle plays an integral part in determining the amount of chemical applied to a given area. It affects the coverage your sprayer can provide, as well as the pesticide droplet size which affects potential drift.
When it comes to nozzles, you can opt for either a boomless nozzle or a boom. With boomless nozzles, you will not have as much control over your drift as you would with a boom sprayer. However, they come in handy when dealing with tall weeds, grass and bushes since they stay stationary and will not create interference.
In order to correctly select between a boom or boomless sprayer, you must first know what you are spraying. This is because the label of the chemical product you are using may provide specific instructions on how to spray and what nozzle you must use.
Secondly, you must know how you plan to spray your crops. For instance, most herbicides for row crops will be applied via broadcast spraying for which you will require flat fan spray nozzles for even coverage. On the other hand, fertilizers may be applied via solid or multiple stream nozzles or flood nozzles, while lawn and turf spraying may be done with flood tips.
The third thing to keep track of is how much spray drift you can handle. Spray drift is essentially the movement of sprayer particles or droplets through the air away from their intended target. You will always have some drift when spraying, but too much drift can reduce the effectiveness of your spraying and can be harmful to neighbouring crops and plants.
Calculating Nozzle Size
Once you have determined what you are spraying, how you will spray and how much drift you can work with, you can then move on to calculating the correct nozzle size to fit your individual needs. To accurately calculate nozzle size, you must take into account your speed, nozzle spacing in inches, and your rate of spray (gallons per acre).
In order to determine the flow per nozzle needed, use the formula Speed x Spacing x Rate (GPA) divided by 5940. This value will show you the flow rate you need per nozzle to achieve your desired rate at your desired speed.
Spraying Safely: Spray Tips for Boom Sprayers
In order to stay safe while spraying, here are some tips you can follow:
Use the Right Nozzles
Make sure to calculate your nozzle size using the formula mentioned above to ensure you get an even coverage and keep yourself and your equipment safe in the process. In addition to this, make sure that all nozzles are cleaned regularly, including filters, before and after use.
Wear Protective Clothing
Always ensure that all required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) — which may be mentioned on the pesticide label — is worn while handling, mixing and applying pesticides. Make sure to wear eye protection, gloves, long-sleeve shirts and long-leg pants when handling chemicals, even in warm weather, and take your time when mixing. This way, you can keep yourself protected and avoid coming into contact with harmful chemicals.
Check Weather Conditions
You must make sure that the wind speed and other environmental factors do not interfere with the drift of spraying and the speed at which you will be travelling. Never exceed 15 km per hour at any time on the farm and only spray when the weather conditions are optimal, for instance, when the wind is blowing between 3–20 km per hour.
Safely Mix the Correct Ratio of Chemicals
Using an induction hopper to pre-mix the product you are applying is a practice that can ensure you get the best application quality while also keeping you safe. This is because a pre-mixing system allows the operator to pre-mix powders, chemicals or fertilisers from waist height rather than pouring everything in from the top of the tank. This way, you will have the right ratio and can avoid inhaling or spilling harmful chemicals on yourself.
What Precautions Should a Farmer Take When Spraying Chemicals?
Here are some tips you can follow to ensure you stay safe while spraying:
- When using chemicals, always keep the label attached to the container so everyone can see what it contains and follow the necessary safety precautions.
- Always read the label on the product you are using as it will contain information regarding the PPE you need to wear when handling the product and the hazards of using that product.
- Always follow the specified application rate as directed on the product label to ensure you get the desired results.
- Thorough cleaning and disposal are essential when dealing with spraying equipment. This is why you must always triple-rinse empty pesticide containers and correctly dispose of them afterwards.
- If you are exposed to chemicals and pesticides, immediately wash with clean water and change your clothes. Always wash your work clothes separately from other clothing after mixing and using pesticides to prevent cross-contamination of yourself and your family.
- Once you have finished spraying, thoroughly wash your hands before eating, drinking and touching your face, particularly your nose or mouth.
Be Ready for Another Safe Day of Spraying With These Maintenance Tips
Now that you know how to stay safe while using boom sprayers, here are some top maintenance tips you can follow to prolong the life of your sprayer.
Flush Out Pumps, Hoses & Nozzles
Use 100 L of fresh and clean water to flush the old chemical residue from the tank through your pump and spray lines. This will help avoid mixing old and new chemicals when you spray next. Once the initial flush is done, run another quantity of fresh water through the unit for a final rinse.
Clean the Tank Internally & Externally
Make sure to wash down all external parts of the spray unit and tractor or machine. Once you have done so, add the required quantity of cleaning solution as directed on the label, remove any seals in the nozzles or filters, and run until empty. Next, remove and clean all filters and let them dry before putting them back on. After you have emptied out your sprayer, fill it back up with clean water to clean any remaining chemicals out of your tank.
Regularly Check Hoses, Fittings & Filters
In some cases, fittings can come loose because of the vibration from the machine while spraying. This is why it is very important to take a quick look at your hoses to make sure there are no leaks. After you have sprayed for a day, always clean out all your filters to ensure they do not get clogged up over time.
Start Spraying With Bunyip Equipment
Bunyip Equipment is your one-stop shop for all boom sprayer accessories and attachments. As an Australian family-owned and operated business with a long history in the earthmoving and agriculture equipment industry, we specialise in machinery attachments for construction and agricultural equipment. We offer all our clients nothing but the finest quality at the most affordable prices. So don’t wait any longer. Shop safe and reliable boom sprayers and much more at Bunyip Equipment today!