NDSU Extension - Griggs County

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June 15

The Extension Connection

By Megan Vig

                The 2018 crop is in the ground and we are now in the midst of spraying season.  This week I share information on sprayer cleanout from Tom Peters, NDSU and University of Minnesota Extension Agronomist.  It’s an awful feeling to see crop injury that is often sprayer load dependent and crop injuries that change for the worst day-to-day.  The message is very simple; it’s not about how much water you push through the equipment to clean residues, it’s about the detail, including identifying places where herbicide residues will collect in spray equipment.

The first recommendation is the most important—spray equipment should never be left to sit overnight without cleaning.  Spray herbicide mixtures on fields and be sure to take time at the completion of the spray job to clean the sprayer, preventing drying and hardening of product residues.  Flush the sprayer system with water if the same product mixture is to be used the next day.  A more thorough cleaning is required if switching herbicides.  At minimum, filling the sprayer with water and running water through the boom will prevent dried deposits from forming.  I realize there are exceptions that may not be avoidable.  However, mostly bad things happen when spray solution rides in the tank overnight.

                Some herbicides are more difficult to clean than others.  Some believe the liquid and dry flowable and water-dispersible granules are the most difficult to remove from spray equipment.  However, herbicides formulated as solutions may also create challenges since they adhere to plastic tanks or hoses.  For example, the growth regulator herbicides (2,4-D, Clarity, Engenia, Stinger) and ALS-inhibiting herbicides (FirstRate, Harmony, Matrix, Pursuit) attach to plastic tanks and rubber hoses and often are removed/cleaned by herbicides in subsequent loads.  Glyphosate acts as a tank-cleaner and removes herbicide residues from rubber hoses, strainers or screens that inadvertently causes herbicide damage in future loads.

                Review the herbicide label for herbicide specific-tank cleanout procedures and recommended cleaning agents.  The following is a list of considerations one should make depending on spray equipment.             

                Poly tanks require more attention when cleaning since herbicide residue can reside in hairline cracks and crevasses in the tank compared to stainless steel tanks.  Use a power washer to clean the film that dries and adheres to sidewalls.  Don’t forget about the product that may solidify and accumulate in the sprayer sump.

                Make sure the sprayer is completely drained of any remaining product.  Use the boom cleanout option if your machine is so equipped.

                Clean product line strainers and screens and inspect the inside of hoses, searching for cracks or where herbicide residue can accumulate residues. 

                Clean irregular surfaces, such as baffles, plumbing fixtures and agitation units, areas where residues accumulate. 

                Remove the end caps from the boom plumbing sections and flush with fresh water.  These areas tend to trap products and cleaning them is essential.

                And of course, water is a good cleaner when used in combination with ammonia, tank-cleaner and/or other commercial products.  However, water and tank-cleaners are not a replacement for the time and detail necessary to search for residues.   If you are looking for a guide on removing herbicide residues from agricultural application equipment, give the Extension Office a call at 797-3312.

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