The following video is provided thanks to Syngenta.
Do you know?
One foil seal contains enough pesticide to raise residue levels above the 0.1ppb standard along 30km of a stream.
How to fill a sprayer, safely, efficiently and effectively
The best possible timing of an application is the single most important way to improve product efficacy.
Research shows that missing a T2 spray timing will result in a wheat yield loss of 0.07t/ha every day. So delay this essential spray by seven days and you are facing a 0.5 t/ha yield penalty.
One of the best ways to get crops covered at the right time is to improve efficiency outside of the field. One of the key areas that can have the biggest impact is during mixing and filling. This, however, is also the process that poses the highest risk to water.
About 40% of all pesticides reaching ground and surface water are reckoned to come from spills, splashes and other sources when filling and mixing. Identifying the hazard areas and controlling them will substantially reduce the risk of water pollution.
Safe and efficient filling
Implementing a strict filling and mixing regime can help improve overall sprayer efficiency and boost application efficacy. It doesn’t take vast investment either, all it requires is for operators to work out a routine and use some sensible ideas to contain any spills.
While a special purpose-built site is ideal, other suitable areas can be used safely or adapted to prevent pollution, but must meet minimum requirements.
The Voluntary Initiative points out, however, a poorly managed concrete site is potentially the worst filling area, particularly if it drains into a ditch or yard drain. Best practice is to surround the concrete with an 8cm-12cm bund to contain any leakage
Ensure the filling area is:
- At least 10m away from any watercourse or vulnerable site
- At least 50m away from any borehole, spring or well
- Away from existing farmyard flash flood routes, rain water outlets and gutter outfalls
- Away from farmyard drains and not above any tile or mole drains. It must be away from main business traffic routes
- On well-structured soil with at least 1.6m depth of soil and sub-soil before bedrock
- Ensure, as far as practical, that any water with pesticide residues is handled separately from other drainage water.
- Use a bund (an 8cm-12cm concrete lip) to keep the handling area water within the area and to keep rain water and other vehicles out of the filling area.
(Source: Voluntary Initiative)
As well as meeting requirements to protect water, the site should also be close to the chemical and water storage to help ensure optimum filling efficiency. It is worth investing in separate water storage tanks, which allow sprayers to be filled quickly and without the need to wait for mains water.
Water storage tanks allow sprayers to be filled quickly without relying on the mains supply.
Even the best, most experienced operators can still make a mistake or have an accident during filling. Serious spills that risk water pollution must be immediately reported to the appropriate environmental agency in England, Wales, Scotland or N. Ireland.
The hotline telephone for:
England, Scotland and Northern Ireland is: 0800 80 70 60
In Wales it is: 0300 065 3000
Get in a routine
Most leading sprayer operators say the most effective, safe and fast way to fill a sprayer is to stick to set a routine that suits you and your site. This not only speeds up turn-around, but also helps prevent mistakes.
Organise your spray store into individual areas for each type of product, for example fungicides, insecticides, PGRs etc. Some operators even colour-code these sections, which further helps you or another operator to quickly find what is required and cut the risk of making a mistake.
Install a white board on the sprayer or at the fill site and write down the products required from the recommendation. Read the labels – following the advice they contain ensures ‘compliance with statutory requirements’, which is a legal requirement. Note, labels can change regularly so even if you have used the product before, it’s still important to read the label.
Farm Sprayer operator of the year finalist, Chris Milligan, has grouped different product types on labelled shelves, making them faster and easier to find.
Assemble all the products together before filling. This ensures everything is included and prevents the risk that incorrect products are included in the mix or, importantly, filled in the wrong order.
Check for compatibility of products if using a tank mix and, if you are unsure, check using the manufacturer’s website or product helplines. Incompatible products in the mix can cause foaming, restrict product performance, lead to blockages or even damage the sprayer.
Manufacturer’s websites provide all the information you need on product compatibility, LERAPs requirements and other vital data
Assemble the mix
Many operators assemble the mix, in order, on a trolley or specially constructed filling tables. These are often home-made, from old stainless steel sinks, but they need to be stable and sturdy and preferably be close to a water supply.
Before filling place a drip tray under the induction hopper to catch any spills or splashes.
Then, unless stated otherwise on label, start filling with clean water, and shut off when the tank’s half full, to reduce the risk of the agitation causing the risk of foaming when the products are added.
When half-filled begin circulating water through the induction hopper and maintain agitation in the tank. Adjust the water flow so there is always water in the induction hopper to prevent air being sucked into the system, which can cause foaming.
Refer to the white board and start adding the products, in the correct order following tank mix guidelines (see box below). Wettable powers and granules are usually added first, followed by liquids and trace elements go in last. Failure to follow the correct sequence when mixing can lead to product incompatibility, foaming and under-mixing.
Tank mix sequence – when no order is given on the label:
|Solids||1||WG||Water dispersible granules < 100gm/ha|
|2||WSB||Water soluble bags|
|3||WG||Water dispersible granules > 100gm/ha|
|8||EW||Oil in water concentrate|
|Other||12||Trace elements/foliar feeds|
After emptying, the containers need to be cleaned thoroughly and an effective routine will help not only improve cleaning, but also help speed-up filling.
Experience shows an initial rinse with dilute chemical helps clean off difficult to remove products, making the final rinsing far faster and more effective.
All containers must be tripled rinsed with clean water before disposal. Best cleaning results come from triple rinsing using three, five second bursts with a well-designed can wash nozzle. This process prevents containers flooding and provides the best rinse with the least amount of water, which will also help speed up filling.
Containers need to be dry before recycling or disposal. The simplest method is to drain upside down on a suitable draining rack. Many operators make their own draining racks which work effectively.
After draining, dry containers should be placed and stored in a suitable receptacle, ready for collection by a licenced waste contractor. Empty pesticide containers must never be re-used for any other purpose.
Many operators construct their own draining racks from old water troughs or feeders, found on the farm. Conveniently located recycling containers helps speed things up.
Following these simple guidelines will enable you to apply plant protection products not only at the right time, but also safely with minimum risk of causing point source pollution.
1. Jo Marsden
A Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year finalist, Jo simply wrote a reminder of the product filling sequence on a tube next to the induction hopper on her sprayer.
2. Andrew Woolley
Andrew, a Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year finalist from Wiltshire, converted this catering sinking into an impressive filling station, which keeps everything conveniently in one place.
3. Tim Winter
Wiltshire-based operator and Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year finalist, Tim Winter ensures foils are thoroughly washed by placing them in this stainless-steel sieve he has fitted to the induction hopper
4. Steve Lake
Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year finalist, Steve Lake, has made drip trays from barrels, placing one beneath the induction hopper and another under the overflow.
With tips and tricks and practical advice from other operators, this article will have helped you to remember the correct procedure for correctly rinsing and disposing of containers, reducing the risk of contamination to you and the environment.
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