Thursday, August 11, 2022

Sprayer Nozzle Selection

This Small Part Plays A Big Role In Making A Crop

⋅ BY AMANDA HUBER ⋅
SOUTHEAST EDITOR

Nozzles are one of the least expensive parts on a sprayer that has the most effect. The correct nozzle recommendation, along with pressure, volume and other parameters for effective application can be found on the pesticide label, said Simerjeet Virk, University of Georgia Extension precision ag specialist. Producers should always start pesticide application by reading the label.

“If you have a worn nozzle or the wrong size or type, the chances of something going wrong are significantly increased,” Virk said.

A Complex Decision

Several factors can influence the coverage and efficacy required during spray applications for effective weed or pest control. 

“Those factors include pressure, volume, boom height, droplet size, tractor speed and field conditions,” he said. “All play a part in good coverage of the crop.” 

Nozzle type affects sprayer output, uniformity, coverage and drift. Consult the manufacturer’s catalog to select the nozzle that provides the desired output (flow rate and droplet size) specific to the application. 

“Nozzle selection will also depend on the ground speed and pressure required to achieve the rate in gallons per acre,” Virk said. 

What About Rotational Crops?

University of Georgia Extension weed specialist Eric Prostko says most cotton growers in Georgia readily adopted the Xtendflex (dicamba) or Enlist (2,4-D choline) crop production systems, which require the use of nozzles designed to mitigate potential off-target movement of the herbicides. But would these nozzles, engineered to deliver very coarse to ultra-coarse droplets, work for rotational crops?

UGA Extension weed specialist Eric Prostko has conducted on-farm research trials to see if auxin nozzles could be used effectively in rotational crops, particularly peanuts for Georgia producers.

“Since most cotton growers in Georgia also produce peanut, growers would like to be able to use these auxin nozzles for pest management in peanut thereby reducing the need for sprayers to be equipped with multiple nozzles,” Prostko said. 

To compare the performance of standard flat-fan nozzles to auxin nozzles, Prostko coordinated seven on-farm research trials in commercial peanut fields over a three-year period. All agri-chemicals were applied by the grower and according to the grower’s typical production practices.

Prostko found that cotton producers could use the auxin nozzles for pest management in peanuts without concern for reduced pesticide performance. 

“Consequently, growers can save approximately $200 to $500 per applicator/sprayer in extra nozzle expenditures depending upon nozzle type/spacing/spray boom width,” he said.

 Various research trials using the auxin nozzles in the two crops continues.  

Another Time-Saving Option

Even if auxin nozzles could be used for both cotton and peanuts, there are other sprayer applications with a proper nozzle selection. 

“Is there one nozzle that can do the best job across all pesticide applications? Probably not.” Virk said. 

In this instance, he recommends using a multi-nozzle turret body. 

“You can put three, four or five nozzles, depending on the type of turret body, which will work best for each type of application — herbicide, fungicide or insecticide — as you go through the season. You don’t have to take it on and off. All you do is change the turret to the type of nozzle you need.”

Time spent on sprayer maintenance, nozzle selection, set up and calibration will go a long way to helping ensure effective spray coverage and pest protection.

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