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Sprayer Cleanout – Avoiding Crop Injury due to Contamination (05/26/16)

Growers may use the same spray equipment to apply selective herbicides in multiple crops in the spring or summer. Crop injury due to contamination is a preventable problem if the appropriate precautions are used in advance to clean spray equipment. How does it happen?

Sprayer Cleanout – Avoiding Crop Injury due to Contamination

Growers may use the same spray equipment to apply selective herbicides in multiple crops in the spring or summer. Crop injury due to contamination is a preventable problem if the appropriate precautions are used in advance to clean spray equipment. How does it happen? Why can I sometimes spray multiple loads before the contamination occurs? What can be done about it?

Certain herbicides can be adsorbed to sprayer components including the spray tank, screens, filter, and hoses. Herbicides, in some cases, may remain adsorbed to sprayer components even following thorough water rinsing. It is not uncommon to hear that several loads were applied before a product was used that desorbed attached herbicides and dispersed them into the spray solution, causing contamination and damage to susceptible crops.

Sprayer cleanout is analogous to making a pit stop during a NASCAR race. That is, the cleanout procedure needs to follow a rehearsed plan. The first step is to access resource materials such as the North Dakota Weed control Guide, pg. 75, or other on-line information. Second, review herbicide-specific tank-cleanout guidelines provided in the herbicide label. Third, develop a sprayer cleanout routine that is followed every time herbicides are changed. Fourth, depending on the herbicide, know the appropriate cleaning agent including water, bleach, ammonia, or a commercial tank cleaner. Finally, take notes. Document what herbicides are the most difficult to remove from sprayer equipment or which adjuvants or herbicides seem to desorb herbicides.

Tom Peters

Extension Sugarbeet Agronomist

NDSU & U of MN

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