When it comes to farm equipment, sprayers often do not get as much attention as tractors, combines and other implements. But this does not minimize their importance to growers, nor does it take away from the many advances that have taken place in sprayer technology over the last few years.
Considering the technology and features available, buying a sprayer is a major investment for growers, no matter their size. Given this, knowing what is available in the marketplace today is as important as ever, especially if you are trying to determine whether or not to buy a sprayer.
Ahead of the curve
“Sprayers are at the front of the agricultural technology curve at the moment. Things are moving so fast it’s nearly impossible to talk about new technologies without at least one example already being available in the marketplace,” says Bob Stwalley, an assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue University, and a consulting professional engineer registered in multiple states. “Farmers in the market for new sprayers should look for features that improve vehicle emission performance and turn-around cycle time, as these are the elements of a machine that translate directly into the overall operation’s profit-and-loss sheet.”
Though not always a standard feature on sprayers, Stwalley cited automatic guidance programs as being a “must have” for modern operations because of how they are able to more effectively distribute chemicals, reduce overspray zones, eliminate missed patches and improve fuel economy. The key, he says, is to make sure you select a system that is compatible with other data systems you are using on your farm.
Based in California, publicly traded Trimble — trimble.com/agriculture — is an example of a company investing in enhanced sprayer performance through its application control systems, and guidance and software products.
“We recently launched our new display, the Trimble TMX-2050, which is built on Android technology,” says Anna Hebert, a marketing manager for Trimble’s ag division. She says rate and section application control, boom height control, and prescription mapping are three specific features of the TMX-2050 display that help growers increase efficiency, save on input costs and maximize yields.
Hebert also notes how growers and other customers have experienced quick paybacks from investing in Trimble’s Field-IQ rate and section control system, which can be added to a wide range of spraying equipment.
“It reduces the amount of chemicals used by automatically shutting off the system when driving over previously sprayed areas, over the boundary of the field, or in an area noted as not needing the chemical applied,” she says, adding its GreenSeeker sensors, which measure plant health as a handheld or boom-mounted system, are good for taking real-time readings and defining rates of fertilizer application for your sprayer.
Tech advances by Trimble and other companies are examples of why Stwalley believes it is important for growers to pay attention and familiarize themselves with the many products and tools available.
“The sprayer world is rapidly changing ... probably faster than anything else in the agricultural equipment market at the moment. The big, positive changes will all be centered around electronics and improved data capabilities,” he says. “However, the current lineup of sprayer offerings is incredibly capable, as the most inexpensive machines on the market today are light-years ahead of the self-propelled sprayers of just 10 to 15 years ago.”
Yontz writes from Urbandale, Iowa. Solution Center is independently produced by Penton Farm Progress through support from SureStart® II herbicide. For more information, visit GetMoreTime.com.