The last several months we have talked about whether or not precision ag pays, how to get started with precision ag and precision ag for your planter. This month we are going to move beyond the planter and talk about precision ag technology for your sprayer.
Are you struggling with your weed control? Are weeds becoming resistant to your herbicides? The key to good weed control is a systematic approach. Not only do you have to choose the right herbicides for the weed populations you have, but you also have to apply them properly. When you think about the challenge we take on when we spray a herbicide, it is amazing in my mind that we do as good a job as we do. Look at four ounces of product and think about spreading it evenly over an acre of ground. It blows my mind when I think of it that way. Make sure you read the label when applying your products. Proper mixing and loading are very important. The type of nozzle you use is also very important. Each nozzle has a proper operating range for pressure to ensure proper coverage. There are so many things that can affect the quality of weed control you get from your application and it’s important to control as many variables as you can.
By helping you monitor and control several aspects of your application process, precision ag technologies can help you get the most efficacy from the herbicides you apply. Let’s take a look at some of the technologies you can use on your sprayer.
Automatic sprayer rate control and droplet size monitoring
Our precision ag displays will control the rate of your sprayer automatically as you speed up and slow down within the field. Droplet size monitoring is something new only from Ag Leader. If you tell the display what nozzles you are using it will color code the pressure gauge so you can match the droplet size to the label. This will help ensure that you are spraying at the correct droplet size per manufacturer’s instructions, which in turn provides the best performance from your product.
Auto steer and section control
Auto steer and automatic section control can help you greatly reduce overlap and skips. With auto steer we have systems that can steer your sprayer down to the inch. This is very important if you are making multiple passes through the crop in season. It keeps all of the compaction and damage from the wheels of the sprayer in the same place. Automatic section control will automatically turn off sections of your sprayer when you get into an area that has already been applied. This greatly reduces overlap and skips. Overlap can cause crop injury either to the current crop or possibly the next crop to be planted. Skips can allow weeds to escape and not only cause competition to this year’s crop, reducing its yield, but also allows the weeds to go to seed and make next year’s weed control an even bigger challenge.
Auto boom height control
Automatic boom height control utilizes sonar sensors to control the height of the booms. Automatic boom height control is essential especially with the large commercial sprayers being used in fields today. With these systems, you simply tell it that you want to keep the boom at 20 inches above the crop and it will keep the boom 20 inches above the crop. This is especially important when applying herbicides, where the nozzles are designed to spray a certain pattern. If they are designed to spray a 20-inch pattern at 20-inch height and you operate without automatic boom height and get the boom too close, you will leave streaks in the field that have no herbicide at all and steaks in the field that have two to 20 times the rate. If you spray with the boom too high in the air you are at risk of having the herbicide drift. Drift cannot only cause less herbicide to hit the ground and uneven application, it can also cause injury to non-target crops in the vicinity of the field to which you are applying.
Infrared Sensors can be added to the applicator boom to detect crop health as the machine goes through the field. These sensors measure the amount of infrared light that is absorbed by a plant and that absorption rate directly correlates to plant health. By comparing the plant health of a part of the field that has all of the nitrogen it needs to the rest of the field, it can create an on-the-go prescription for nitrogen. These sensors have proven themselves, both to us and to our customers, by providing an average three-year payback of $38.73 per acre at $3.50 per bushel corn.
So as you can see, precision ag is not just for planters. Your sprayer can benefit from this type of technology as well. If any of these precision ag solutions pique your interest, you can always call us at Ag Info Tech or talk to your local precision ag dealer.