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    Blog posts tagged with 'agriculture'

    A Comprehensive Guide to Pre-Season Preparation for Farmers: Maximizing Yield and Efficiency

     

    This guide focuses on the unique needs and challenges of row crop farming, emphasizing efficient use of resources, technology integration, and sustainable practices to enhance productivity and profitability.

     

    1. Soil Testing and Field Preparation

    Conduct Detailed Soil Tests: Test each field for pH, nutrient levels, and soil composition to guide precise fertilizer and lime applications. Soil sample analysis can be done by your local soil laboratory or extension service.

    Field Preparation: Implement tillage practices suited to your soil type and crop needs. Minimum tillage can preserve soil structure and moisture, while conventional tillage may be necessary in certain conditions to prepare a seedbed, control weeds, or incorporate amendments.

     

    2. Crop Selection and Rotation

    Select Adapted Varieties: Choose crop varieties with high yield potential, disease resistance, and adaptability to your climate. Consider traits such as drought tolerance or herbicide resistance as applicable.

    Implement Crop Rotation: Rotate crops to break pest and disease cycles, improve soil health, and optimize nutrient use. Plan rotations to include legumes to fix nitrogen, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.

     

    3. Seed Treatment and Planting

    Use Treated Seeds: Opt for seeds treated with fungicides and insecticides to protect against early-season pests and diseases. Consider seed treatments that enhance germination under cold or wet periods or seed varieties which tolerate drought or high-wind conditions.

    Precision Planting: Use precision planting equipment to ensure uniform seed depth and spacing. Calibrate planters for specific seed sizes and adjust planting rates based on germination tests and field conditions.

     

    4. Water Management

    Irrigation Efficiency: For irrigated fields, optimize irrigation schedules and methods (pivot, drip, or furrow) based on soil moisture monitoring and crop water needs. Consider technology like soil moisture sensors and weather-based irrigation scheduling.

    Drainage: Ensure proper field drainage to prevent waterlogging and enhance root development. Install or maintain drainage systems where necessary.

     

    5. Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

    Scouting and Monitoring: Regularly scout fields for pest and weed pressure. Use thresholds to make informed decisions about the need for interventions.

    Chemical and Biological Controls: Use targeted chemical controls when necessary and consider biological controls like beneficial insects for sustainable pest management.

     

    6. Machinery Maintenance and Calibration

    Equipment Readiness: Ensure all planting, tillage, and spraying equipment is in good working order before the season starts. Perform necessary maintenance and repairs during the off-season.

    Planter Calibration: Precisely calibrate planting equipment to match seed size, type, and desired planting rate. Check and adjust downforce, seed tubes, and closing wheels to ensure optimal seed placement. Perform a short test swath of planted seeds to ensure all settings are correct before planting entire fields.

     

    7. Technology in Farming

    Adopt Precision Agriculture: Utilize GPS-guided equipment for precise planting, fertilizing, and spraying. Consider variable rate technology (VRT) for applying inputs based on soil and yield data.

    Data Management: Use farm management software to track field operations, input applications, and crop performance. Analyze data to make informed decisions for future seasons.

     

    8. Weather and Climate Adaptation

    Weather Tracking: Use weather forecasts and climate data to plan field operations and mitigate risks from extreme weather events.

    Resilience Practices: Implement practices to increase crop resilience against climate variability, such as cover cropping, diversified cropping systems, and conservation tillage.

     

    9. Economic Planning and Risk Management

    Cost Analysis: Conduct detailed cost analyses for each crop, considering input costs, projected yields, and market trends.

    Risk Management: Utilize crop insurance and marketing strategies (futures, options, contracts) to manage price and yield risks.

     

    10. Professional Development and Networking

    Continuous Learning: Stay updated on agronomic research, crop protection products, and new technologies through extension services, agricultural publications, and professional associations.

    Collaboration: Engage with local farming groups, cooperatives, and research institutions for shared learning, market opportunities, and collaborative projects. 

    (0) Disinfectant Basics - 3 Methods for More Effective Disinfecting

    We speak a lot about sanitation and disinfection these days. From the office and classroom to our own personal spaces, we are focused on cleaner, safer areas more than ever. And while many businesses are just now taking a closer look at how they clean their facilities, disinfecting in food processing has long been serious business. That doesn’t mean all disinfectants for food processing cleaning are made equal.

    Disinfectants come in a variety of forms, each with its distinct advantages and disadvantages. In fact, which disinfectant you choose for your application is just as important as the why and how you disinfect. As we’ll cover in this article, understanding the basics of each disinfectant type and the general rules behind applying them ensures a more comprehensive and cost-effective cleaning regimen. Read on for our breakdown of disinfection basics for more effective disinfecting.

    Why Disinfecting in Food Processing is So Important

    While commercial processing facilities spend the majority of their time up and running, their most important activity occurs when the production floor is empty and silent. Maintaining clean, sanitary workstations and equipment, particularly in food processing, is integral to public health and safety. In the United States, such standards are overseen by government agencies such as the EPA, CDC, and USDA.

    But why disinfect at all?

    E. coli, a common bacterial target of disinfecting food processing facilities

    E. coli, a common bacterial target of disinfecting food processing facilities



    Well, for starters, food processing plants are not the cleanest places once production gets going. Soils, in the form of fats, oils, blood, and other animal protein and production byproducts, quickly collect on equipment and surrounding surfaces. Such deposits, if left unaddressed, make these surface areas ideal breeding grounds for countless hosts of bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful microorganisms.

    Proper cleaning removes these unwanted soils and contaminants, providing significant benefits downstream. Maximized production efficiency, increased product shelf life, safer work conditions, and fewer mechanical failures and delays are but a few positive outcomes to attentive housekeeping. Scheduled cleaning and disinfection also significantly decrease the chances of costly product recalls due to food hazard risks such as food poisoning or foreign body contamination.

    A processing plant’s commitment to a culture of health and food safety can easily be seen by how devoutly they approach the cleaning and disinfecting processes. And yes, there is a difference between the two.

    Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

    For most of us, cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are all one and the same concept. They are, however, three distinct steps within the larger cleaning process. Cleaning is the process of physically removing unwanted substances and contaminants from a given surface. The cleaning stage, sometimes referred to as the detergent stage, is often characterized by the removal of common soils such as dirt, grease, or oils via manual scrubbing with brushes or wipes or washing with a high-pressure spray wand. Cleaning a surface in this manner alone; however, will not kill germs present.

    Tub-O-Towels - Heavy Duty Cleaning Wipes for removing difficult soils

    Heavy Duty Cleaning Wipes for removing difficult soils



    Disinfecting on the other hand, does kill bacteria and other microorganisms left behind following the cleaning stage. While similar to sanitizing agents, which merely reduce the number of bacteria and other germs to acceptable levels of health safety, surface disinfectants make a surface truly contaminant-free. Their high bactericide concentrations of chlorine or bleach eliminates the ideal growing conditions bacteria and other microorganisms thrive on. 

    TACT Disinfection Cycle



    Every cleaning application will follow a distinct set of variables, generally known as TACT. The four aspects of this cleaning/disinfection concept are time, temperature, action, and concentration. How prominently each phase is in the disinfecting cycle depends specifically upon your unique needs, including the soils you’re wanting to destroy, and the chemicals being used. Followed properly, the combination of them all will achieve the desired result of a clean, disinfected space.

    It’s important to understand that cleaning must take place before the disinfecting stage. Since disinfectants do not break through heavy soils on surfaces, removing such deposits ahead of time ensures the disinfectants are able to work with the greatest efficacy.

    Choosing the Right Disinfectant for the Environment & Application

    Today, disinfectants cover a wide spectrum of chemical concentrations and applications. Choosing the right disinfectant for a specific environment, therefore, can be a task in and of itself. A few things to consider.

    First, the choice of disinfectants depends foremost on a user’s requirements. In other words, where are they disinfecting and what type of contaminants are they trying to eliminate. After that, the type of processing and cleaning equipment used, the application method, and, to some degree, the personal preference of the user all play a role in selecting a disinfectant.

    Also, review a disinfectant’s toxicity, leftover residues, and any possible chemical reactions related to water hardness and various surface types. This is particularly important within the food processing industry. Any residual chemical compounds left behind after disinfecting can adversely affect product taste, curing, and shelf life. In the brewing industry, for example, certain disinfectant cleaners are avoided because they linger on glass surfaces. (Soapy beer anyone?) Understanding a disinfectant’s proper application process and any residue properties it has helps prevent product quality from suffering.    

    Once a disinfectant is chosen, the most important thing to remember is to always read your disinfectant product labels! Always. With effective cleaning practices, disinfectants will kill 100% of germs listed by the label—when used properly.

    Disinfectant Label



    Ignoring what’s detailed on the label—or choosing not to read it altogether—is a great way to undermine a disinfectant’s effectiveness and cause mechanical failure of your disinfecting systems. It’s also quite dangerous. Later in this article, we’ll cover some of the safety considerations and equipment needed when dealing with disinfectants. For now, just remember that the label is the law. By following the label, you keep you, your cleaning staff, and anyone who comes in contact with the disinfected area, directly or indirectly, safe.  

    Disinfectant Type Comparison: Foam, Spray & Steam

    Most of the food processing industry today relies on three common disinfectant application types: foam, spray (aerosol), and steam. Since no two environments are exactly alike, no two disinfectants will perform equally across the board either. Below we’ve provided some comparisons for these three disinfectant types and some general considerations to have before choosing the right disinfectant for your situation. 

    Foam Disinfectants

    Foam Disinfectants



    Pros:

    • Better coverage of surfaces
    • Greater visibility of coverage
    • Lower pressure application
    • Less product needed to work
    • More cost-effective than other disinfectants

    Cons:

    • More challenging mix ratios
    • Added costs if needing separate surfactant agent
    • Greater attention to spray nozzle orifice size
    • Greater flow needed to apply

    Foam disinfectants are quite common in most food processing and industrial operations. Why? For starters, foam disinfectants can offer up to 50% more coverage than sprays. This is because foam expands as it comes in contact with a surface, greatly increasing coverage and disinfecting performance. In large production spaces, such as production floors or livestock barns, this helps keep cleaning costs down. Users can realize up to 50% cost savings on chemical alone, with additional savings possible in application time as well. Foaming is also a great option for disinfecting ceilings and vertical surfaces since the foam adheres better than sprays and therefore extends disinfection dwell time.

    One challenge with foam disinfectants, however, is the need to include a surfactant. A surfactant is a foaming agent that chemically reacts with your disinfectant chemicals. Surfactants also lower the surface tension between two materials, such as water and dirt, making the soil easier to remove. Without a surfactant, your disinfecting solution will not foam properly, making it less effective. While some disinfectants include a surfactant already, most do not. Be sure to read your labels prior to starting your cleaning process to ensure proper solution effectiveness.

    Additionally, check that your application equipment is compatible with foam solutions. Using a high-pressure pump without the appropriate chemically compatible elastomers is a great way to ruin an expensive pump. It is imperative, therefore, to check the chemical compatibility of ALL components throughout your entire cleaning systems. That includes examining the largest pump to the tiniest o-ring. In doing so, you not only avoid costly equipment damages or failures, but also prevent ineffective treatment from taking place.

    Hydro Systems FoamMaster



    Opt for chemical spray foamers and accessories that feature downstream injectors that bypass incompatible seals and components. Better still, invest in a complete foaming system like the Hydro FoamMaster. Available in multiple mounting styles, the FoamMaster is ideal for larger industrial cleaning applications, from washdown facilities and meatpacking plants to animal production buildings, such as the dairy barns shown in the video above. These compressed air units allow a user to set the desired dilution rate for their specific application. From there, the system mixes the chemical and surfactant with the carrier agent (generally water) to create rich, clinging foam.   

    Dultmeier has even helped develop custom disinfecting systems. Check out our work on the JBI Poultry Disinfectant Foaming Trailer here.

    Spray Disinfectants

    User disinfecting with spray in an industrial kitchen

    User disinfecting with spray in an industrial kitchen



    Pros:

    • Fewer chemical compatibility issues
    • Quick-and-easy to apply
    • Wide variety of disinfectant types
    • Usable for almost any application/environment

    Cons:

    • More chemical usage to achieve adequate coverage
    • Generally higher pressures applications
    • Greater health concerns due to aerosol emissions

    Dultmeier Sales DC1 Air-Driven Disinfectant Applicator

    Dultmeier’s DC1 Air-Driven Disinfectant Applicator



    Aerosols are the most widely used disinfectants used for industrial cleaning tanks to their incredible versatility and ease-of-application. You can find disinfectant sprays for nearly every circumstance and apply them using a commercial pressure washer, handheld or backpack sprayer, or similar system without any chemical compatibility issues. Dultmeier’s DC1 disinfectant applicator system, for instance, features an air-powered diaphragm pump, a 25 gallon storage tank with an automatic mixing valve, and a trigger spray wand that can easily store and apply most disinfectant products without a problem.  

    Complete Plant Washdown/Industrial Clean System

    Complete Plant Washdown/Industrial Clean System



    The thing about spray disinfectants is that they can be costly. For one, most disinfectant sprays require a high-pressure system to be applied well. These systems; while effective, can be expensive to fund. Furthermore, since so much energy goes into turning a disinfecting solution into spray, an operator may have to use more product to disinfect an area compared to if he used foam.

    Steam Disinfectants

    Dry steam disinfecting for food processing sanitation

    Dry steam disinfecting for food processing sanitation



    Pros:

    • Effective against a wide range of microorganisms
    • Not affected by soils or hard water
    • Non-corrosive or chemically reactive
    • Leaves behind zero residue

    Cons:

    • Cannot be used on heat-sensitive equipment or surfaces
    • Does not remove large soil deposits
    • Dangerous high temperatures to human contact
    • Difficult to maintain consistent temperature and exposure

    As their name suggests, steam disinfectants work using steam to kill bacteria, spores, and other contaminants. The prolonged exposure to the moist high heat destroys microorganisms, leaving surfaces truly decontaminated.

    Although a viable disinfectant method, we recommend using either foam or spray detergents for most applications. The main drawback to steam is that high temperatures, generally either 250° F or 270° F (or greater), must be maintained throughout the disinfection process to ensure microbial death. Such high temperatures can also damage certain components and surfaces. Foams and sprays have much wider applications, which simply makes them better and more-cost effective options for most operations.

    Disinfecting Scope - Know Before You Go

    No two areas are created equal when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting. Case in point, you don’t clean and disinfect an office space in the same way you do a meat packing processing floor. That makes understanding your scope of disinfection all the more important before ever beginning the cleaning process.

    Product Needs

    Pure hard surface disinfectant

    Purehard surface disinfectant; ideal for food processing & food preparation



    For instance, the size of the area you’re disinfecting will greatly influence the amount of product needed. Do you need a 5-gallon bucket of disinfectant or a 55-gallon drum? Maybe you need more. This is where foam disinfectants really have the advantage. Their enhanced coverage and prolonged contact time with the applied surface allow less product usage.

    Make note of the GPM flow of your system. If you have a pump that produces 3 GPM of flow attached to a 50 gallon tank, you effectively have 16.5 minutes of continuous application time. Time is money, so how much time will be spent mixing solution is an extremely important thing to remember when disinfecting large areas.

    Disinfectant Systems

    Your style of disinfectant system is something else to keep in mind. Most operations have some level of clean-in-place (CIP) process. However; for a vast majority of the disinfecting process, mobile cleaning units are necessary to leave an area truly decontaminated. Portable disinfectant systems equipped with powerful pumps and spray wands allow an operator to spray disinfectant at a variety of angles, speeds, and tailored quantities. This versatility ensures every hard-to-clean space can be adequately decontaminated. 

    Portable Sani-Mister disinfectant unit

    Portable Sani-Mister disinfectant unit



    Ventilation

    Finally, take a minute to evaluate your space’s ventilation. Taking the office vs. processing floor scenario, ventilation is likely very different between the two spaces. On the processing floor, the larger area means aerosols and vapors have more room to dissipate or be dispersed by exhaust fans. In the smaller office space, however, chemical fumes become more of a hazard. Respirator masks may be required based upon the chemicals used and/or size and ventilation capabilities of the application area.

    Always be cognizant of how to enter a space for disinfection and understand how your solutions react when in use. Evaluating how to approach an enclosed space for disinfecting and how long someone should be exposed to that environment once they start keeps everyone healthy and safe.   

    Safety First: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Disinfecting

    Personal Protective Equipment PPE for Disinfecting



    Regardless of the style of disinfecting you ultimately use, you need to wear personal protective equipment, also known as PPE. This protective equipment ranges from nitrile chemical gloves and safety goggles to full body TYVEK coveralls. These products protect you from spills, splashes, and unexpected contact with the disinfectants which can cause serious chemical burns.

    Reusable Unlined Gloves



    Certain aerosol disinfectants may even require a respirator mask to protect you from harmful chemical vapors. Even if the disinfectant label doesn’t list a respirator as required PPE, you may still choose to wear one if working in a small, poorly ventilated space. Each chemical application is different.

    Read your product labels for the proper PPE required to handle specific disinfectants safely. Regularly inspect PPE for wear or damages and replace if needed. Also, ensure your facility has clearly marked eyewash stations and safety showers in case of an emergency. Whether you need gloves, eye protection, or water-resistant clothing, we can help you find the gear you need to be best equipped for the tasks at hand.

    Conclusion

    Proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures will always be a serious focus in the industrial and food processing industries. In fact, one of the most important activities that occurs in any industrial processing facility is their disinfectant regimen. Even so, disinfection practices and policies will continue to change with new health research, product development, and societal perceptions. With that in mind, having a reliable, knowledgeable company you can trust to support you is imperative to your business’s success.  

    Dultmeier is that company you can trust. We carry an extensive catalog of disinfectants, personal protective gear, and cleaning equipment and supplies from trusted brands like Mosmatic, DEMA, Suttner, General Pump, Hydro Systems, Boss, and others. While we cannot ultimately tell you how to disinfect, we can share with you the many different methods and assist your operation regardless of your choice of application. We’ll happily help answer all your questions about various disinfecting types and work to get you the equipment and products you need to ensure your workspaces are cleaner than ever.

    Reach us at dultmeier.com or give us a call at 888-667-5054. Your Experts in Delivering Fluid Handling Solutions – WE KNOW FLOW!

    (0) A New Age of Spraying – How To Size PWM Spray Nozzles

    The commercial spraying industry continues to improve technology. At this point, incremental gains can make a tremendous impact and that incremental gain can be as smaller than a 60 micron droplet. If you have a new spray rig, you’re probably not alone. Favorable grain prices paired with government payouts related to COVID-19 have allowed many operations to afford asset upgrades this past year. Maybe that asset upgrade came with Pulse Width Modulation technology? If so, this post is a must read for you prior to sizing your spray nozzles this season. 

    Speak at length with anyone involved in the ag sprayer industry about the new advances in sprayer technology, and there is a solid chance you’ll hear the phrase “pulse-width modulation” mentioned. Although the technology isn’t exactly new, advancements in spray nozzle design and overall efficiency of pulse-width modulation (PWM) spray systems arrive on the market every year, along with a slew of new PWM spray nozzles. 

    Following up on our article on sprayer nozzle sizing, we’ll focus on explaining how PWM systems work and provide you example-based guidance for how to size a PWM spray nozzle on your own. We’ll also explore the benefits of PWM spraying and why it may be time to consider making the switch from a conventional sprayer system to one outfitted with PWM spray nozzles and accessory components. Read on for all the details and be sure to use the table of contents to help you get around.

    Pulse-width Modulation Explained

    Pulse-width modulation was first developed for the agriculture industry in the 1990s by Dr. Ken Giles, a professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of California, Davis, and Capstan Ag Systems. For many farmers and agronomists today, however, pulse-width modulation still presents considerable degrees of uncertainty and understanding. So, let’s clear up the confusion.

    Pulse-width modulation, in ag-related terms, refers to how liquid flow rates are controlled via an electronic signal and shut off valve. Unlike conventional sprayer booms, a PWM system features nozzle bodies each equipped with an electric solenoid. As this solenoid turns on and off—typically an average of 10 times a second—an intermittent, pulsed spray is created through the nozzle. The proportion of time that the solenoid is open is known as the pulse width or duty cycle. It’s this percentage of time the nozzle is open vs. closed that ultimately dictates your rate of application.

    PWM solenoidactuated nozzle body.

    Cross-section illustration of a PWM solenoid-actuated nozzle body.



    Because duty cycle plays such a significant role in determining proper sprayer calibration for PWM operation and PWM nozzle sizing, it’s best we dive a little deeper into how this concept works. That way, you will know exactly how to choose the proper size spray nozzle for your specific agricultural operation.  

    Duty Cycle — The Driving Force Behind PWM

    One of the limitations of conventional sprayer systems is that nozzle flow varies indirectly with sprayer pressure. As the sprayer speeds up, the system must adjust pressure to also adjust flow rate to deliver the same application rate per acre. Generally, a device called a rate controller automatically recalculates the necessary adjustments for you. So, when the sprayer increases speed, the rate controller causes spray pressure to increase as well until the flow rate sensor shows that the nozzle flow is enough to maintain the target application rate desired.   

    There are two related problems with these conventional spray systems. First, pressure must be increased significantly in order to increase flow rate as speed is increased. For instance, nozzle pressure must be doubled for nozzle flow to increase by just 41%. Moreover, pressure must be tripled to increase flow by 73%. Most sprayer pumps cannot achieve this doubling or tripling of their output while increasing flowrate.

    Secondly, sprayer tips are very sensitive to changes in spray pressure. Go too slow and the lower pressure can cause the spray pattern to collapse. The result is poor, inconsistent coverage. Drive too fast, though, and your droplet size becomes finer, creating drift problems. This delicate balance means traditional sprayers must remain within a very specific, narrow speed range, which is not always possible given field conditions or with variable rate applications.

    A key aspect in PWM systems is that spray nozzle output is no longer tied solely to sprayer pressure. Instead, PWM systems focus on duty cycle. Again, duty cycle is the proportion of time that the solenoid is open/on, meaning the percentage of time that your spray nozzles are actually spraying.

    PWM Duty Cycles

     

    Typical duty cycle ranges are between 20-100%. Although lower duty cycles are possible, they are not recommended since droplet size and spray pattern can become inconsistent.

    During operation, every nozzle can spray at its maximum flow (100% duty cycle) or a fraction of its flow capability. That means a nozzle operating at a 20% duty cycle will deliver about one-fifth of the flow of a spray nozzle spraying 100% of the time. Even so, the pulses occur so quickly that spray pattern and droplet size won’t be adversely affected.

     

    What does this mean in practice? For one, while duty cycle is still linked to changes in sprayer speed, the spray pressure remains constant. This enables a sprayer operator to make pressure adjustments to maximize coverage or drift control independent of speed and the rate of application. The end result is a spray application that is not only more accurate but also more consistent across diverse field conditions.

    Calculating Duty Cycle

    Duty cycle directly correlates to ground speed. When calculating duty cycle to correctly size your PWM spray nozzles, you want to aim for an average speed around 75% duty cycle. For example, if you figure you’ll travel between 10 and 20 MPH while spraying, you’ll want to choose your spray nozzle for an average speed of 15 MPH—or 75% of your maximum speed. This gives you plenty of flexibility to adjust the duty cycle up or down if you experience unexpected changes in speed without compromising your droplet size or spray pattern integrity.

    Selecting the Appropriate Spray Nozzle for PWM Systems

    Since the means of controlling nozzle flow rate is different between traditional sprayer setups and those with pulse-modulation, sizing PWM nozzles likewise differs a bit from conventional spray tips. This means that you won’t necessarily be able to use traditional flow rate tabulation charts to size your nozzles. No need to fear, though. The PWM spray nozzle sizing process is still easy to understand.

    There are three things to remember when selecting PWM nozzles. For starters, you want to always choose wider angle spray nozzles for pulse-width systems. One of the biggest concerns regarding PWM spraying is the risk of application “skips” as you move through the field. Wider angle nozzles such as 110° flat fans ensure you’ll produce enough overlap in your spray coverage to eliminate skipping.

    Additionally, you’ll want to avoid using air-inducted spray nozzles for PWM spraying. The introduction of air can compromise the spray pattern and droplet size as the nozzle pulses off and on. As shown in the video below (at 3:18), this deterioration of droplet size is especially obvious upon the valve pulsing off, where residual air causes the application to dribble out from the air inlets—thus rendering the spray nozzle ineffective.

    Now, new advancements have been made regarding air-induced nozzles regarding pulse-width modulation. TeeJet, for example, has several air-induced nozzles that have been approved for PWM use. However, your best bet is still to use non-air-inducted nozzles such as the Turbo TeeJet and Turbo TwinJet. The Greenleaf Soft Drop or Blended Pulse Dual Fan (BPDF) series or Wilger ComboJet series are good options, too.  

    Finally, an important point to remember when using PWM systems is that nozzle pressure is different than boom pressure. This is because nozzle pressure/flow is now controlled by the solenoids which are independent of your overall system’s pressure reading. As the solenoids turn off and on, a pressure drop needs to be accounted for with higher boom pressure.

    Difference between gauge pressure and nozzle pressure for an 0.8 nozzle.

    Difference between gauge pressure and nozzle pressure for an 0.8 nozzle.



    For example, for a 110-04 spray tip, the average drop is only about 3 PSI. A larger 110-08 tip, however, will push the limits of the solenoid even further, creating a greater decrease in pressure. This can be anywhere from 6 PSI at 30 PSI gauge pressure to 13 PSI at 60 PSI gauge pressure! If the pressure drops too low, the nozzle won’t be able to form a uniform spray pattern and droplet size. Therefore, the larger the nozzle orifice, the greater the boom pressure required to compensate.

    PWM charts calculate against this pressure drop and offer speed ranges for operating specific nozzles at a given gauge pressure.

    Sizing PWM Sprayer Nozzles

    Alright, let’s size some spray nozzles. A few things you’ll need to know ahead of time:

    • Target application rate
    • Typical average speed
    • Desired droplet size

    Using these three components, you’ll be able to quickly find the correct spray nozzle size for your PWM application.

    Once you start looking at the charts, just like with conventional spray tips, you want to select a PWM nozzle which falls near the center of the pressure range for your desired droplet size. In most cases, this will be between 40 and 70 PSI for the best pattern and droplet size retention. However, it’s difficult to suggest the proper droplet size and nozzle type for every application. As always, check your chemical labels for proper application droplet size before beginning.

    Sizing Greenleaf PWM Nozzles

    For this first example, we’re going to find a nozzle within the Greenleaf line of spray nozzles using their PWM tabulation chart. To start, we take our target application rate, let’s say 12.5 GPA on 20” spacing, and set our average speed at 15 MPH. Keep in mind we want to maintain a 75% duty cycle through the field. This means we can go as fast as 20 MPH (100%) or as slow as 5 MPH (25%) without exceeding our chosen nozzle’s pressure rating or compromising our droplet size or application rate. Our droplet size for this example is Coarse to Very Coarse.

     

    Next, moving down the 75% duty cycle column, we find where our average speed of 15 MPH falls within the 40 to 60 PSI gauge pressure range. Looking left, we see that the best fit is a 0.8 nozzle. We can also readily see that only one nozzle, the BPDF, will provide our desired droplet size.

     

    We could’ve chosen an 0.7 nozzle, but we’re already pushing the pressure limits of that nozzle at our speed. If our average speed was to increase by even one mile to 16 MPH, our droplet size would decrease to Medium. Choosing an 0.8 nozzle still retains our Course-Very Course droplet size even if we were to decrease pressure or speed.

    Sizing TeeJet PWM Nozzles

    TeeJet has a similar approach to sizing PWM nozzles, though their tabulation chart works a bit differently. Instead of providing you with the duty cycle columns, they simply display your minimum/maximum speed range. This means you have to calculate what the 75% duty cycle speed would be on your own. Once you have that however, you can quickly find your ideal spray nozzle.

     

    In the example below, we chose to apply a 15 GPA at 10 MPH with a desired Ultra Coarse or Extremely Course droplet size. We actually have two nozzle options to choose from in this case—the Turbo TeeJet Induction (TTI) and TTI TwinJet (TTI60). Both are again in the 0.8 size.

     

    We also have the Air-Inducted Turbo TwinJet (green box) with an XC droplet size if we wanted. However, the larger UC droplet size of the other two nozzles and the fact that they aren’t air induction nozzles makes them better options.

    Sizing Wilger PWM Nozzles Using the Wilger Tip Wizard

    Wilger has made selecting their Combo-Jet nozzles for PWM systems even easier via their online Tip Wizard. Here, simply enter your GPA, speed, and target droplet size into the specific fields. You’ll also enter nozzle spacing, spray tip angle, and which PWM system you’re operating on. Many PWM systems, from Capstan PinPoint to Case AimCommand, Raven Hawkeye to John Deere ExactApply have different actuation speeds. The Tip Wizard will then provide you a list of the best nozzle options given your specifications.

     

    For a complete guide to using Wilger’s Tip Wizard and understanding results when sizing nozzles for PWM, click here. They even have a video walkthrough if you prefer that option.

    Advantages of Using Pulse Width Modulation Nozzles

    Although there is no indication that conventional spray nozzles will become obsolete in the near future, the rise of PWM nozzles will undoubtedly continue to assume an increasing share of the industry. And for good reason.

    First, PWM spray nozzles allow you to maintain constant pressure across a wide range of speeds. Having a wider range of travel speeds means that even when speeding up or slowing down through the field, you retain the necessary pressure—and therefore droplet size—to correctly apply your desired chemical rate without sacrificing coverage.

    Drift control is another benefit of using PWM nozzles. While PWM systems do not significantly improve drift control alone, they do make it easier. This is because they offer a wider speed range to work with, meaning you can use larger sprayer nozzles designed for coarser spray patterns. Even if you tweaked your pressure higher or lower, your duty cycle would internally adjust to apply the same application regardless of speed. The larger droplet sizes then allow you optimal drift control.

    Illustration of turn application rates for conventional spray system with rate controller

    Illustration of turn application rates for conventional spray system with rate controller only (left) vs. a PWM system with nozzle-by-nozzle turn compensation capability (right)



    Finally, greater precision. The consistency across numerous speeds means PWM spray nozzles provide incredible application accuracy. Reduction in chemical costs, fewer over- or underapplications, and less drift potential gives PWM operators much more control over their spray operation. Many systems today even have the capability of controlling individual nozzle flows. This nozzle-by-nozzle sectional control enables greater turn compensation and more accurate, site-specific application through the field.

    This feature is especially important when turning around at the end of the row. When turning in a conventional sprayer system, the inner boom nozzles become effectively stationary and substantially over apply chemical. Meanwhile, the outside boom nozzles move faster than the application rate can be accurately applied. PWM systems featuring turn compensation such as Capstan’s PinPoint overcome this by individually controlling each nozzle, maximizing efficiency and accuracy.  

    Final Thoughts

    As industry leaders continue developing new, better PWM spray equipment systems, understanding PWM technology and how to apply it to your own operation becomes increasingly important. Not unlike sizing conventional sprayer tips, choosing the correct PWM spray nozzle plays an integral role in ensuring the accuracy and efficiency of your sprayer system. After all, your application is only as good as your spray tip.

    For any questions regarding sprayer tip sizing and PWM spray systems, be sure to check us out at dultmeier.com or give us a call at 888-667-5054. We’re happy to assist you with whatever questions you may have and provide you the technical expertise and diverse products necessary to get you back in the field. Let us help you find what you’re after today so that you get the best sprayer performance possible.

    Your Experts in Delivering Fluid Handling Solutions – WE KNOW FLOW!

    Sprayer Nozzle Sizing — How To Properly Size Spray Nozzles

    Whether it’s 1980 or 2021 – Dultmeier Sales fields thousands of calls each spring on this topic alone. How do I size my spray nozzles? We don’t help you select the type of spray tip for your application(s) – we advise you to consult your agronomist in this instance so they can get eyes on the crop situation to help develop a custom plan for your operation. That being said, once you’ve identified which type of nozzle(s) you need, we can absolutely assist in the sizing of said nozzles. This post is a great resource to use that helps to outline what we do just about every day during spring. 

    It’s spring, and with the frenzy of field preparation, fertilizing, and putting seed in the ground on everyone’s mind, the height of the planting season is nearly upon us. This time of the year also signals, if you haven’t started already, that the time for you to begin readying your sprayer for your early season spraying is fast approaching. 

    Between calibrating your sprayer pump and checking all your hoses, you already have a lot to get done in order for your sprayer to be ready for the field. One of the most important parts of your sprayer prep; however, is ensuring that you have the correct sprayer nozzles appropriately sized for the chemical and fertilizer solutions you’re looking to apply. 

    Without serious attention to detail, improper nozzle sizing can lead to a multitude of mistakes and delays when you can least afford them, not to mention the increased costs. In this article we’ll examine the proper approaches for how to size nozzles for various spray application types and how to attain ideal nozzle coverage and drift control. We’ll also share why correct sprayer nozzle sizing is so important to your sprayer and crop performance. Read on at your leisure or use our table of contents to help you navigate through the article to find the answers you’re looking for. 

    Nozzle Sizing Information to Know Before You Begin

    Sprayer nozzle sizing can often be a confusing bit of business, especially with new tips and nozzles being designed every season. Pulse width modulation anyone? Luckily, the way you decide which nozzles you need has remained essentially the same for years. The first step is ensuring you have three pieces of critical information:

    • Rate of application – in gallons per acre (GPA)
    • Average sprayer speed ­­– in miles per hour (MPH)
    • Nozzle spacing – in inches (W)

    Once you have those pieces of information nailed down, you can then plug them into a standardized formula and calculate how many gallons per minute (GPM) that you need to apply. Here’s the formula:


    GPA  x  MPH  x  W / 5,940 = GPM (per nozzle)


    Knowing the number of gallons per minute you need to spray then allows you to reference a sprayer nozzle sizing chart that you can use to locate the ideal nozzle size for your specific sprayer setup. There are also plenty of tip sizing tools available online that calculate the best tip size for you. You can try our GPM calculator or use these from WilgerPentair, and TeeJet

    In the next section we’ll put this formula into practice and walk you through a few examples of how to size your sprayer nozzles for different chemical and fertilizer applications so you have a better idea of how to approach it on your own. 

    Sprayer Nozzle Sizing for Different Applications

    Although sizing spray nozzles is largely uniform across the board, there are a few slight differences in how to size a sprayer tip depending on the type of liquid solution you’re applying. Here, we’ve included the two most common application types when sizing broadcast nozzles: chemical/water solutions and liquids heavier than water.  

    Sizing for Ag Chemicals and Water Solutions

    A vast majority of your sprayer applications will fall under this category since it includes most of your herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and other common ag chemicals. Sizing nozzles for this type of application is also the most straightforward since you’re using water as the base agent and aren’t having to adjust for a higher relative density.

    Relative density, also commonly referred to as specific gravity (SG), is the ratio of density—or mass of a unit volume—of a substance to the density of a standard reference material. For liquids, specific gravity is almost always measured against water since water has a specific gravity of 1.0. When calculating the application rate of liquids heavier than water, you must use a conversion factor to compensate for the higher solution density. We’ll cover more on these conversion factors when we discuss sizing sprayer nozzles for liquids heavier than water a bit later. For now, though, assume that our examples are calculated with the SG of water. 

    Now, many sprayer nozzle sizing charts will display a wide selection of common spraying speeds. If your speed is already in the table, simply cross-reference your nozzle spacing and speed and locate the GPA you want to apply. But what if the speed you want to spray at isn’t shown on the table? This is where the formula plays such an important role.


    Shows how to find nozzle size for 8 GPA at 6 MPH for 20” nozzle spacing when all information is listed in the chart.

    Shows how to find nozzle size for 8 GPA at 6 MPH for 20” nozzle spacing when all information is listed in the chart.

     


    So, example time.

    Let’s say we want to spray 20 gallons per acre of 2,4-D. Our average sprayer speed in the field is 12 miles per hour (not shown in the table), and we are operating on 20-inch nozzle spacing. Our formula would look something like this:


    20 x 12 x 20 / 5940 = 0.808 GPM (per nozzle)


    Let’s also say that we want a course droplet size and are looking to use a Turbo Teejet wide-anglespray tip. Taking our 0.808 gallons per nozzle rate and using the Teejet sizing chart for this model of spray tip, we scroll down the Capacity in One Nozzle column to the nozzle size most closely matching our desired specifications. In this example, that would be the white tip nozzle.  

    Nozzle Capacity Chart

     


    It’s best practice to find a nozzle that meets the GPM rate as close to the middle of the PSI range as possible. This is important in relation to your speed. Most spraying systems rely on largely consistent speeds across the entire field for the optimal performance. As a result, slow down too much, such as at the end rows, and you compromise your spray pattern and improperly apply your chemicals. Go too fast, and your sprayer pump may not be able to match your new pressure rate for the nozzles you have, setting off system alarms. 

    Even if your sprayer pump can match the higher speed, your droplet size then becomes much smaller, increasing your risk of drift. Neither case is what you want. Having a spray nozzle in the middle of the range ensures that you’re able to maintain spray pattern, solution density, and droplet size—even with slight rises and drops in speed. 

    Sizing for Ag Liquids Heavier Than Water

    When sizing your spray nozzles for liquid solutions heavier than water, such as liquid fertilizer, you’ll follow a very similar process as sizing nozzles for your water-based ag chemicals. The difference in sizing for this type of application; however, is that you need to adjust for the higher density of your solution. You accomplish this by using a density conversion factor seen in the chart below.


     


    So, let’s say we wanted to apply some liquid nitrogen fertilizer. Using the conversion chart above with our previous example, our formula would look like this:


    20 GPA x 12 MPH x 20 W / 5940 = (0.808 x 1.13 Con. ) = 0.91 GPM


    In this case, you’d still use the white nozzle tip from our previous example since the 0.91 GPM still falls near the middle of the pressure range for the course droplet size desired. If your speed is shown in the chart, simply take your intended GPA multiplied by your conversion factor to locate your nozzle size. 

    The key in either case is to factor in the conversion factor before you reference the sizing chart. Otherwise, you’ll select the wrong spray nozzle and wind up with improper droplet size and inaccurate application. In the next sections we’ll examine why these two ideas, spray coverage and droplet size, are tied so closely to the idea of proper nozzle sizing.

    Nozzle Spacing and Spray Heights for Proper Coverage and Overlap 

    It should come as no surprise that sizing your spray tips correctly is just as important as where you put them on your sprayer. In fact, nozzle spacing and sprayer boom height are two aspects you mustn’t ignore when choosing the size of the spray tip that you need. 

    For starters, nozzle placement—both width between nozzles on the boom and the height of the nozzles above the ground—determines how well your spray coverage theoretically performs based upon the fan angle a nozzle has. Most setups will use some type of nozzle which creates a fan-shaped spray pattern. This means that the heaviest concentration of spray is at its center and tapers off to nothing at the edges. Common sprayer systems operate on 20, 30, or 40-inch nozzle spacing, and the arrangement of nozzles at these spacings determines how uniformly your application is ultimately applied. 

    To achieve uniform application; however, you’ll need to create a pattern overlap in your spray coverage. Overlap—or the combining of spray patterns—is necessary, particularly in broadcast spraying, because the outer edges of spray patterns don’t have uniform volume distribution. Without overlapping coverage, you risk leaving portions of your field under-treated or even skipped. That means you’ll likely spend more time and money correcting the mistake. 


    Illustration of spray pattern overlap.

    Illustration of spray pattern overlap.

     


    Factors that affect spray nozzle overlap

    Three factors affect overlap in relation to sprayer nozzle sizing. First of all, your nozzle fan angle determines the total width of the spray pattern. The wider the fan angle, the wider the spray pattern. Today, 80-degree and 110-degree fan angles are the most used nozzle angles in agriculture applications, though others are available. Second, spray tip spacing. The closer the nozzles are to one another, the more the patterns will overlap. Farther apart, and the amount of overlap is lessened. 

    Finally, adjusting your spray tip height will further affect how much overlap you have. The higher the boom, the more overlapping because each pattern has more room to spread out. Another good thing to remember regarding the height of your spray tips is that the higher above the row your boom/tips are, the more susceptible to wind and drift your solutions are. We’ll touch on this a bit more in relation to droplet sizing in the next section, but for now keep it in mind. 

    Now, unsurprisingly, not all spray nozzles are the same. Finding the proper height in relation to your nozzle spacing then is imperative. In the table below for example, you can see the height recommendations of various TeeJet nozzle series based upon nozzle fan angle and boom spacing.


    Suggested Minimum Spray Heights

     


    In most cases, your ideal overlap for broadcast spray nozzles is approximately 30%. Adjusting your nozzle spacing and boom height accordingly will give you the best chance to maintain adequate, uniform coverage across the entirety of your system, even when other variables such as wind speed and pressure decreases occur.

    Maintaining Droplet Size for Optimal Drift Control 

    Finally, we want to share a few words on droplet size. Namely, follow your labels. 

    After all, the label is the law! Not following how a specific chemical or pesticide is meant to be applied can create serious damage to not only your crops, but your fellow farmers' as well. This has become especially important when dealing with volatile chemicals like Dicamba.


    Burn damage caused by Dicamba drift.

    Burn damage caused by Dicamba drift.

     


    Make sure that you’ve chosen and sized a sprayer nozzle capable of producing the appropriate droplet size recommended for the chemical you’re applying. If the label lists a specific nozzle or droplet size to use, follow those listings to a T. Furthermore, install your spray tips at the proper boom height and operate at the required pressure range to achieve the stated recommended droplet size of a given chemical. This will significantly reduce the likelihood you experience issues with ‘hanging’ droplets and drifting. 

    Consulting the spray label is just smart practice. It can determine whether or not you need to make any additional adjustments to your spray equipment or need to purchase additional nozzle accessories to attain the right nozzle spacing and droplet size specifications. 

    Importance of Proper Sprayer Nozzle Sizing 

    We don’t have to tell you that your time is money. When it’s time for you to be spraying in the field, you can’t afford troubleshooting on the fly or stopping to recalibrate your sprayer a second or third time. 

    Which is the exact reason why you should take the time well in advance of spraying season to research the agricultural chemicals and fertilizers you intend to apply. Running long or short of chemical means your solutions were not applied efficiently and may not work as effectively as intended. 

    In fact, overapplication due to poorly sized or worn out sprayer nozzles is a serious problem if left unaddressed. Ag chemicals are very expensive, and if you’re over applying it, you’re wasting money. All the major manufacturers that we represent recommend replacing any spray tip if it’s overapplying by 10% of the rate of a new nozzle. That includes TeeJet and Hypro to Wilger, Greenleaf, and Delavan. If you find that at least two of your nozzles are overapplying by this rate anywhere across your boom, replace every nozzle in the system. Using a sprayer nozzle calibration tool, like the one shown below, will give you the fastest and most accurate reading of how your nozzles are performing and if you need to swap them out for new ones.


    SpotOn Electronic Sprayer Calibrator, 0-1.0 GPM

    SpotOn Electronic Sprayer Calibrator, 0-1.0 GPM


    Incorrect spray tip sizing has ramifications on your other sprayer components as well. Your sprayer pump especially may struggle to operate at its ideal performance. This can substantially increase the wear and tear on your pump components and lead to an inability of your pump to create or hold the spray patterns and proper application density. 

    Conversely, your pump outperforming your spray nozzles at higher speeds can change the droplet size. Higher pressures create smaller droplet particles and lead to increased risk of drifting that can cause serious damage to you or your neighbor’s crops when dealing with many of the volatile chemicals used today. Be sure to routinely examine your sprayer tips for wear of the nozzle orifice for the reason that you ensure they aren’t in need of replacement in order to maintain the correct droplet size you’re after. 

    In the end, understanding how your agriculture chemicals and fertilizers are meant to be used and their proper droplet size ensures both appropriate solution application and adequate drift prevention. Once you have that information, the rest is relatively easy. 

    Conclusion

    Although the science behind sizing sprayer nozzles has become more dynamic in recent years, the process doesn’t have to be complicated for you. Following the guidelines in this article will give you a great start to your spraying season and ensure you aren’t left reworking your sprayer when you should be in the field. 

    Be sure to check us out at dultmeier.com or give us a call if you have additional questions regarding sprayer nozzle sizing. We offer a huge selection of TeeJet, Hypro, Greenleaf, Wilger and Delavan spray nozzles to suit your unique sprayer setups. Our team of experts will be glad to assist you with any concerns or questions you may have and discuss how to ensure you’re getting the best performance from your spray nozzles. 

    After all, we’re your Experts in Delivering Fluid Handling Solutions – WE KNOW FLOW! ®

    (0) Sprayer Productivity – How to Increase & Achieve a Greater ROI

    What do we look for in a sprayer? 

    Is it to merely kill weeds?  How well does a certain sprayer kill weeds?  The size – is bigger necessarily better?  Or, do we also need to assess the value of that sprayer against how long it spends in each field?  All these questions should be carefully considered when making a large investment into a piece of equipment that drastically affects the yield of your crop(s).

    After all, a sprayer is one of your most important asset management tools when maintaining and ensuring your crop health – thus effectively ensuring that you get the most out of your yields – regardless of the crop you’re raising.  Therefore, I think the answer to the questions above is that we must absolutely consider each question when determining a true Return on Investment (ROI) for a sprayer – regardless of the operation size or scope. 

    In this write-up we will assess the four questions above.  To start, let’s dissect each question at a high, strategic level.  

    How Well Does a Certain Sprayer Kill Weeds?

    This is a somewhat loaded question as chemical types, brands, and mix rates are involved.  But if your accessory products/equipment, which are used to move the solutions onto the plants are lacking, then your sprayer effectiveness will undoubtedly be lacking, as well.  Therefore, we must consider year-end maintenance programs.  Boom-end flow rates, line obstructions in accessory products such as strainers and valves.  Leaking pump seals, poor shaft alignment, and worn spray tips all factor into the efficiency and productivity of your sprayer.  Neglect these important features of your sprayer and your operation, and your crop yields will undoubtedly suffer.  So, to answer the question outlined in the opening paragraph – your accessory products, that are used to help move solutions, – are just as important to your operation as the sprayer itself.

    Year-End Maintenance

    It is necessary that a season-end maintenance program is followed to ensure your operation sees success in the ensuing season.  Follow our recommended winterization process.  Hoses, pumps, motors/engines, valves, strainers, and spray tips should all be inspected to help create a post-season inventory/repair list, in preparation of the upcoming season. 

    Spray Tip Selection

    Have the proper spray tips been selected for the job(s)?  Consult your local agronomist for specific details on the product(s) you will be spraying for the upcoming season.  When spraying Dicamba products, only specific spray tips are approved for each product – and at specific pressure ranges.  You can read another post related to Dicamba. Undoubtedly, always check the label of the product you are spraying to ensure you are spraying “on label”.  You can have all bases covered in preparation for an upcoming season.  However, if you choose incorrectly on spray tips – or size your spray tip orifices incorrectly based upon the rates you intend to apply – the consequences could be catastrophic to your operation – or your neighbors’ operations.  Here is a tip sizing tool from TeeJet.

    Sprayer Size

    Does bigger necessarily mean better?  It depends. If you’re out in western Nebraska and have straight runs for a mile plus, then you may want to consider 120-foot booms with auto steer functionality.  However, if you’re in Western Iowa and you have many fields that are 75 acres or less, you probably want to opt into a smaller, more agile spray package.  Regardless of your choice, one question should drive your purchasing decision – what is the potential ROI?

    Speed and Efficiency

    How long does it take to spray each field and how many acres do you anticipate covering daily?  This should be one of the largest focal points when assessing your operation.  Don’t focus on non-productive time in an operational day (i.e. travel from field to field, rinse-out, rain/wind delays).  These are variables that we have little to no control over.  

    However, a large area in which we do have control over is nursing, or fill, times.  If you can cut your fill times, regarding both fuel and chemical, how much more productive can you make your operation?  Let’s look at some products that can help you achieve this task.  First, let’s look at a study done by Praxidyn’s Doug Applegate, regarding average sprayer price in comparison with cost per acre/hour.  The numbers displayed reflect average prices/costs from various suppliers/operators in a regional area in Western Iowa.


    Increase Sprayer Productivity Chart


    Conclusions:

    • Slower loading times increase the cost per acre/hour of productivity.  Increased cost ranges from 26 to 42 percent.
    • Spending 10% more for larger capacity/coverage in a sprayer will increase productivity roughly 8%.
    • Spending 7% more for an automated mixing system can increase productivity by 20% to 30%.
    • Smaller sprayers are actually more cost effective for their capacity. 

    The main takeaway here is that, in general, an operation can lower operating costs by, roughly, 20%.   Let me repeat….20%.  And by simply shaving off 10 minutes from fill times.  It’s important to note, as the sprayer size increases, the cost savings are reduced.  For instance, a sprayer with a 600-gallon tank and 90-foot boom can effectively realize over 29% savings by reducing fill times down to 5 minutes.  Consequently, when looking at a sprayer with a 1200-gallon tank and 120-foot boom, we see about 20% cost savings. 

    Praxidyn MixMate

    The Praxidyn system allows users to automate loads.  You can prepare loads the night before from your living room while watching TV or from an office chair.  Send the loads to the operator in the field.  No math needs to be done by the operator.  The biggest change the operator would make to the load is regarding weed height.  Upon arrival to the field, if the operator notices weed height on the order calls for six inches, and the weed height is actually 10 inches – the operator can make that adjustment to the order and the software will recalculate input quantities on the fly – no math is needed.  

    Another value-added feature to the MixMate system is the ability to track and record data. Through the cloud-based software, a user can record exactly how much product was applied to each field – and the exact time of the load or batch. This will continue to be ever-more important as regulations continue to tighten. 


    Praxidyn Mixing Automation


    Praxidyn MixMate Fusion

    MixMate Fusion – New for 2019

     


    We hope that you enjoyed this write-up on increasing sprayer efficiencies. Should you have any questions or feedback don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at www.dultmeier.com!

    (0) Wheat Prices Set to Soar - Or Are They?

    Wheat Market - From Then to Now

    If you have had your finger anywhere close to the agricultural market in the past few years you know it is somewhat depressed.  Especially, since we hit highs for corn around $7/bu back in 2013. This was such a rapid incline in grain prices that it somewhat threw the markets out of balance.  Anyone that has remotely studied markets is familiar with the pendulum effect.  If a market swings drastically in one direction, it is bound to swing back just as hard - if not harder - in the opposite direction.

    This market effect could be potentially unfolding before our eyes this summer.  Heat waves around the world are driving the price of wheat higher.  Europe and Asia are seeing abnormal heat, which is burning up the wheat crop on these geographical regions.  While the United States has seen heat as well - it hasn't necessarily been in wheat country.  We live in a tremendously global market environment.  The prices we see daily, are affected by what happens across the pond and all over the world.

    European & Asian Wheat Farmers

    Therefore, the distress that European and Asian farmers are currently experiencing is positively impacting the US wheat farmer.  Simple supply and demand is causing this increase in the wheat market.  Because there is less supply going into the market place from our European and Asian competitors, their 2018 wheat crop is expected to be less than the forecast.  Whenever there is a shortage in a market, the commodity begins to increase in price.  The less you have of something the more valuable it becomes.

    Russia, Ukraine, France, and Great Britain are all European countries which have wheat farmers that are being negatively impacted by the 2018 heat waves.  On August 2nd, Chicago wheat futures hit three-year highs to around $5.50/bu (The Wall Street Journal).

    A Look Back into History

    Looking at an aggregate chart of wheat prices since 1960, we can see fairly large market clips occurring about every seven to ten years.  On average, these pullbacks are about 50% down from the high.  The most recent high was back in December of 2007 at just under $12/bu.  We seem to have found a level of support at roughly $4/bu.  Currently, we are sitting at a $5/bu.


    Wheat Prices Since 1960, Source www.macrotrends.net

    Wheat Prices Since 1960, Source: www.macrotrends.net

     


    Looking at historical trends it appears as though wheat prices are on the up-and-up.  It seems that the market has found a much more agreeable level of support.  I say 'agreeable' since one can clearly see the higher lows met with higher highs in 2016-2018.  We did not see this back in 2010-2012 failed rally.  The market wasn't ready to correct and thus we were sent into a further recession.

    Now, it seems the market is posed to regain the losses from 2012.  Where we have seen about a 57% clip in the price of wheat - to the low in August of 2016.

    Sometimes markets require a little extra push or catalyst to take off.  A shortage in supply can absolutely be that catalyst.  The US is positioned well in the current global wheat market and pose to reap the rewards of healthy crops.

    Is an Increase in Wheat Futures a Certainty?

    Now, we must acknowledge the tariff war and how that could potentially affect US wheat farmers.  China has imposed tariffs on American grain and oil-seed imports.  If we could look at wheat prices in a vacuum, one would say the US wheat farmer is posed to prosper over the next few years.  The global supply and demand issues we addressed above, along with the technical analysis of the chart presented above both suggest this is the case.  However, trade wars generally don't impact the farm market in a beneficial manner.  It's difficult to say what is going to happen but all things aside - wheat looks posed to make a run.

    As always we hope you find this post to be informative and educational.  You may ask yourself how Dultmeier Salescomes into play in the wheat market.  We offer a wide product selection to help enable producers plant, fertilize, and protect their crops through herbicide/fungicide applications.  Check out our Agricultural Division page here.  Stop back soon!

    (0) Valve Applications & Valve Purchasing Guide

    Dultmeier Sales stocks valves of all different makes, models, and applications.  Here you will find all you need to know about the different types of valves we stock and the various applications they are used for.  More importantly, we will help you determine what you need to know prior to making a valve purchase.  Let's dig in...

    Valve Definition & Common Trade Names

    What is a valve?  What are some common trade names, associated with, the valves that Dultmeier Sales stocks and distributes?  In a nutshell, a valve is a product which is used to constrict, cut off, redirect, or regulate the flow of a liquid or gas.  While we do sell pneumatic valves we will be primarily focusing liquid, or solution, valves for this educational segment.  Some common trade names associated with the valves we stock are as follows: butterfly, ball, gate, globe, angle, needle, solenoid, check, regulating, diverter, foot, relief, unloader, backflow prevention, and float valves.

    As with any product, it's crucial to identify the type of valve, the manufacturer, inlet/outlet size, operating and maximum pressures, solution temperature, and the solution passing through the valve.  It's critical to know what solution is passing through the valve to ensure proper chemical compatibility.  Knowing the solution's PH level can also be another important factor when determining suitable components and materials.

    How to Size a Valve

    We size valves similar to how we size pipe.  Always measure the inside diameter of the inlet/outlet port.  This will identify the size of the valve in question.  A common mistake is that people measure the outside diameter of the inlet/outlet ports of a valve.  There is one exception to this rule - if working with tubing - measure the outside diameter of the tubing.  For hose and pipe, only pay attention to the inside diameter measurement.

    If flow rate is important, the coefficient of volume (Cv) of various valves can be compared.  Now, I understand that sounds rather technical.  However, in layman's terms all that means is the higher the Cv for a valve, the more flow rate will pass thru it with the same pressure loss.  In the majority of applications, this will be a non-factor but it is still important terminology to be aware of in the vast world of valves.

    Manufacturer Identification & Valve Type Explained

    Most manufacturers will have a metal tag on their valve bodies to identify their brand.  That manufacturer tag will identify the brand of the valve, the model, and serial number.  This is an important first step in identifying what product you currently have. That being said, let's begin with a look at butterfly valves.

    Butterfly Valves

    Here at Dultmeier Sales, we stock a variety of butterfly valves.  In the butterfly valve world, it's important to first determine which style of butterfly valve you possess.  The two most common styles are Wafer or Lug bodies.  A wafer-style butterfly valve has "thru" bolt holes that run along through the outside rim of both pipe flanges.  In contrast, a lug-style butterfly valve has threaded bolt holes on both sides of the valve body to allow for "end of line" applications.  Lug-style butterfly valves are, generally, less common than wafer-style butterfly valves.  Below, you will see a wafer-style valve on the left and a lug style valve on the right:


    wafer style butterfly valve   lug style butterfly valve

     


    Butterfly Valve Actuators

    Next, we get into the topic of valve actuation.  We primarily stock butterfly valves that are manually (seen above with handle) or pneumatically actuated with either double acting or spring return actuators.  A double acting butterfly valve actuator requires air pressure to open the valve and then air pressure to close the valve.

    A spring return butterfly actuator is used in fail-safe applications.  If there is a loss of air pressure the valve will automatically close (or open) - due to the spring tension of the actuator.  Spring return actuators are used in many production plants that require system flow to cease once power is cut or lost - as mentioned above, this is a fail-safe application example.

    Electric Actuators are also used in many industries.  While we don't stock electric actuators for butterfly valves - we have access to them.  Actuators can also be provided with “positioners”, limit switches and other controls.

    We stock Butterfly Valves and Air Actuators from Keystone and Pratt.

    Ball Valves

    A ball valve is probably the most common type of valve that exists - across all industries.  It gets its name due to the fact that it actually has an internal ball that sits in a "seat".  When the handle or knob is turned 90 degrees from the inlet/outlet ports, the valve is closed and one can see the convex shape of the internal ball.  When the handle is turned parallel with the inlet/outlet ports, the valve is open and one can view through it - unhindered.

    On the left, below, is an example of an air actuated, stainless steel, female pipe thread, ball valve.  While on the right, you will see a Banjo, polypropylene, manual, flanged, ball valve.


    actuated-ball-valve    Banjo Stubby Valve

     


    Standard Port vs. Full Port

    By design, ball valves that are listed as Standard Port actually have less fluid path than the inlet/outlet ports size limitations - this is somewhat misleading to those that are unfamiliar with the concept of Standard vs. Full Port valves.

    For example, if you have a 2 inch Standard Port valve your flow characteristics will be closer to that of a 1.5-inch fluid path.  The technical reasoning behind this is the fact that a smaller opening creates more friction loss (i.e. pressure drop) thus resulting in a decreased flow rate.  Standard port ball valves are cheaper than full port valves but restrict the system flow rates; somewhat.  So, if flow rates don't matter or affect your system then you can save money up front by selecting standard port valve(s) for your plumbing system.

    Full port valves allow the plumbing system to realize the full flow characteristics of the valving.  If all valves in a system are two inch full port, valves then we can reasonably assume increased flow rates in comparison to a system that contains all standard port valving.  A full port valve has a slight design change that allows for this increase in flow characteristics.  While the valves may look the same externally, there are internal design changes that are not visible to the naked eye.

    High Pressure vs. Low Pressure

    This is another crucial step in determining the correct valve for a specific application.  If necessary, place a pressure gauge at various points in the plumbing system to determine the system operating pressure.  Never guess the operating pressure of a system.  If a low pressure valve is installed into a high pressure system, serious or fatal injury could occur.  As a general rule of thumb, anything below 150 psi is considered Low Pressure - that being said, there are valves rate for pressure less than 150 psi.

    This gets back to one of our core fundamentals when selecting a proper valve - determine operating pressure and maximum pressure for the intended plumbing system.

    Ball valves are a perfect example of how the same style valve can be used in multiple applications - both high pressure and low pressure.  We have some ball valve product lines that have use applications which are limited to certain industries - due to their operating/working pressure limitations.  However, we have many ball valve lines that carry over into multiple industry applications.

    While we do carry many products that can be cross-utilized in various industries we always want the customer to confirm an operating pressure.  This ensures safety in application and use.  Furthermore, it minimizes the possibility of injury and lessens the chance of damage to the valve and other plumbing system components

    Air Actuated & Electric Motor Driven

    We carry ball valves that can be remotely operated via automation, as well.  The most common types are pneumatic (air-operated) and electric motor-operated ball valves.  Air operated are most widely used in chemical facilities, fertilizer plants, or industrial plants.  Electric ball valves are most commonly used in agricultural applications for spraying applications.  The trade name electric ball valve or pneumatic ball valve simply refers to how the valve is actuated.

    When you drive down the road and see a large self-propelled sprayer, spraying in a field, you can be certain the booms are being remotely controlled.  The boom valves are remotely controlled from the sprayer cab, with the help of electric ball valves.  The sprayer operator sends a signal from his, in-cab, boom controller to turn certain sections of the sprayer boom on/off - based upon the field's specific application requirements.

    We also see electric ball valves in the turf industry.  Golf courses or residential sprayers will commonly use this type of ball valve on their sprayer setups.  It is more prevalent in the turf industry due to the fact that the booms are much smaller than the agricultural industry.

    Lastly, we do a fair amount of business in the liquid deicing industry.  If you have ever seen a department of roads/transportation vehicle that is applying liquid before a winter storm - you have witnessed this industry in action.  These vehicles are applying a solution called liquid salt brine (sodium chloride, magnesium or calcium chloride solution).  Electric driven ball valves are common in this industry because pneumatic valve airlines would freeze in the frigid winter temperatures.

    For those interested, here is a link that further explains the process of creating the salt brine solution.  Below is a picture of a pneumatic-operated ball valve, on the left.  On the right you will see an electric-operated ball valve.


    Air Actuated Stainless Ball Valve     Electric Banjo Ball Valve

     


    Gate Valves

    A flanged gate valve is used in larger flow applications.  In the Dultmeier world, we most commonly see this style of valve used on large bulk fertilizer, fuel tank storage applications, and float storage tanks in the vehicle and fleet washing industry.  Gate Valves are generally designed with a circular handle that is turned clockwise to close the valve and counter-clockwise to open the valve.

    Just as any other valve, we need to confirm the solution that will be passing through the valve to ensure chemical compatibility and then confirm the working or operating pressures that are required by the plumbing system.  Most commonly, we are supplying flanged gate valves for lower pressure ranges.  Below is a picture of a common flanged gate valve used in the bulk fertilizer industry.


    Gate Valve

     


    Gate Valve Side View

     


    Globe & Angle Valves

    A globe valve is very similar, from an external view, to that of a gate valve.  However, when we look at the valves internally, they are quite different.  As can be seen from the previous section, the gate valve operates almost like a wedge or slate that constricts or completely closes off flow.  A globe valve has a different seat structure and more of a plunger that constricts or completely closes off flow.  See below:


    Globe Valve Nh3

     


    Globe Valve Side View Cutaway

     


    Below is a photo of a couple different sized globe valves on an Anhydrous Ammonia application.  These valves are for a receiving bulkhead system where a plant facility will offload large bulk transports into their bulk storage tanks.  The larger valve is on the liquid line transfer and the smaller valve is on the vapor transfer line.


    Nh3 Globe Valves

     


    In the Dultmeier Sales world, we most commonly use globe valves in the Anhydrous Ammonia industry.  That is the same for angle valves.  The most common application we see angle valves used in would be on toolbars or supply risers for Anhydrous Ammonia fertilizer applications.  Continental Nh3 Products and Squibb Taylor are our two largest suppliers for these types of valves.  An angle globe valve can be viewed below:


    Angle Globe Valve Continental Nh3

     


    Needle Valves

    Next up we will take a look into needle valves and the various applications they can be used for.  Most commonly, we see these valves used in higher pressure applications such as car/truck wash and high-pressure cleaning.  Here is a grouping of various needle valves on our website, to further illustrate the variety of options.  That being said, we do sell a fair amount of needle valves in the Anhydrous Ammonia industry for a bleed off application.

    As always, in any application we want to confirm the solution passing through the valve, working or operating pressure range, and temperature of the solution.  Below you can view a picture of a needle valve.


    Brass Needle Valve

     


    Solenoid Valves

    We carry a wide supply of solenoid valves from a number of suppliers.  The most notable brands we offer are GC ValvesDEMAKIPKingston and more. A solenoid valve is another example of an electric valve.  However, they are drastically different than electric ball valves.  That being said, solenoid valves can be controlled remotely and are used in a number of industries.

    We most commonly use them in high-pressure vehicle or fleet washing applications, industrial applications, and agriculture or turf spraying applications.  Some users in the agriculture industry are starting to migrate away from solenoid valves to ball valves - the primary reason being the necessity for the ruggedness of a ball valve versus over a solenoid valve.  Mother Nature in combination with aggressive chemicals is an extremely harsh environment for a valve.

    Normally Closed vs. Normally Open

    This is an important topic to address - especially in the realm of solenoid valves.  If a valve is "normally closed" it means that the valve is closed in its uncharged state.  More simply put, if there is no electrical current passing through the valve coil then then it will remain closed.  If a valve is "normally open", that means the valve is open in its uncharged state.

    Various applications will call for either style.  Coils in these valves can be 12 volt, 24 volt, 110 volt and even 240 volt, which allows for a wide and versatile range of applications.

    For example, in the vehicle washing industry, we may want to have a weep application on a spray gun.  We would do this to ensure the gun doesn't freeze shut in lower temperatures.  Therefore, we want ambient water to continuously run through the system or spray gun - if a loss of power occurs.  So, in this instance we would want to ensure a normally open valve be installed in this type of a plumbing system.

    Solenoid valves are still highly used in the car/truck wash industries due to the fact that they are generally stored in temperature-controlled environments while limiting exposure to the harshness of the natural elements.

    Check Valves

    Next up, we will look into the world of check valves.  This product is used to prevent backflow of a solution in a plumbing system.  For instance, a check valve would be utilized when pumping a solution up a vertical pipe and you do not want the solution to backflow, due to gravity, when the pump is turned off.  A check valve is a form of backflow prevention.

    Furthermore, check valves keep a plumbing system charged.  By keeping the system charged we can ensure more efficient delivery of product and reduce the number of air pockets that are present in the plumbing system, which reduces pump priming time and other potential pump problems.  The more efficient a plumbing system is - the less it costs to keep it running.

    Types of Check Valves

    There are multiple types of check valves and each has its own benefits.  We will briefly touch on the different types, here.  First, is the most efficient type - in terms of maximizing flow characteristics.  The swing check valve allows for maximum flow characteristics due to its design that reduces restrictions (i.e. a high coefficient of volume).

    Regardless of the check valve style, we need to remember the cracking pressure.  The cracking pressure determines the PSI at which the valve opens.  Therefore, if a check valve has a cracking pressure of 2 psi it will not open until the plumbing system generates an operating fluid pressure greater than 2 psi.  Below is a cross-cut section of a swing check valve:


    swing check valve

     


    Secondly, we have a ball check valve.  This type of check valve has a preset mechanical spring that allows the valve to open based upon a pre-determined working pressure.  These types of check valves are commonly used in high-pressure applications such as car and truck wash, but also within industrial and agricultural applications.


    ball check valve

     


    Lastly, there is a plunger style check valve.  This style is pictured below:


    Disc Check Valve

     


    Things to note when ordering a check valve:

    1. Operating and maximum pressure requirements
    2. Solution or product passing through the valve - check for chemical compatibility
    3. Cracking pressure
    4. Inlet/Outlet size
    5. Body type (wafer, NPT, flanged, etc)


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    Regulating Valves

    A regulating valve can technically be any valve.  In this sense, if you can constrict or control the flow by manipulating the opening threshold of the valve - you have just regulated the system flow.

    To that note, we are going to look at this section with this one caveat in mind - a regulating valve needs to be remotely controlled.  To do this, let's first look into electric motor driven valves.

    There are certain types actuators of ball valves or butterfly valves that manipulate the flow rate of the solution by opening or closing the valve stem a to a certain degree.  Without getting too technical this is done in conjunction with some type of flow monitor that is able to communicate with the valve actuator through a control mechanism.

    This control mechanism can be a simple rate controller in a sprayer cab or as complex as a computer dashboard in a chemical production facility.  The regulating valve communicates to the flow monitor through the system controller to reach and/or maintain the desired flow rate.  This controller can be a simple rate controller or a complex computer system.

    Regardless of the application - in order to remotely control a regulating valve we must have a controller that sends a signal to the valve based upon the desired flow rate of the operator.

    As always, any application we want to confirm the solution passing through the valve, operating pressure range, and temperature of the solution.

    Diverter Valves

    A diverter valve functions very similarly to a remotely controlled regulating valve.  The main difference between a regulating valve and a diverter valve lies within the functionality.  A diverter valve is designed only to guide product flow through a system.  Therefore, the most common example of this would be a three-way ball valve.

    We look at this section with the same caveat in mind - a regulating valve needs to be remotely controlled.  To do this, let's first look into electric motor driven valves.

    The diverter valve would be remotely controlled through a similar mechanism as a regulating valve.  The main difference is that the diverter valve "diverts" flow down fluid path A versus fluid path B - based upon the desired location sent by the controller or computer.

    Foot Valves

    Foot Valves are commonly used in transfer systems that require the pump to maintain it's prime.  A foot valve is essentially a type of check valve.  Foot valves are placed at the beginning of a suction line and are generally designed with some type of a strainer or screen to protect the plumbing system from sucking in foreign objects.

    If you recall the design of the check valve, you will remember that a check valve closes when there is backflow pressure applied on the spring check.  This forces the valve to close and keeps the system suction line primed, with liquid - thus increasing the overall efficiency of the plumbing system.  The less time it takes to prime the pump the more efficient the plumbing system becomes.  Below you can view a diagram of a plumbing system that includes a foot valve, with strainer.


    foot valve diagram

     


    Relief & Unloader Valves

    Relief and unloader valves are commonly used in higher pressure situations with positive displacement pumps.  These valves are used to protect system components from dead-head scenarios.  A positive displacement pump will continue forcing product downstream in a plumbing system until there is a system failure such as a burst pipe, fitting, hose, etc.  Thus, the term: dead head scenario.  To help combat this scenario, relief and unloader valves were designed.  Here is a diagram that explains a relief valve scenario


    Wash Diagrams


    This video will explain the difference between the two styles of valves.  As always, Cat Pumps does an amazing job explaining content.



    Back Flow Preventers

    In any wash down application where an operation has a water supply line connected to a public water source then it's absolutely necessary, by regulation, to have a back flow prevention valve in place.  We distribute for Watts and commonly sell these units in vehicle/fleet wash applications, industrial applications and fertilizer/chemical facility applications.  A backflow prevention system products the main water supply in the scenario where a local business would have a system failure and back up chemical, fertilizer, hazardous material, etc. into the main water supply - backflow prevention systems inhibit this scenario from taking place.


    Below is an example of a Watts back flow preventer

    Watts Back Flow Preventer

     


    Float Valves

    Float valves are used in a wide array of applications.  Virtually anywhere you need to maintain the level of a supply tank - you can leverage the assistance of a float valve.  Some common float valve product lines that we distribute and carry include BOB ValvesJobe ValvesHydro SystemsKerrick ValveDemaWalters Control, and Suttner.


    Below is a Dema liquid level proportioning control unit with a siphon breaker.

    Dema Liquid Level Control

     


    Another application that is extremely common with float valves is in the cattle industry.  We sell a unit that allows the user to tie into a warm water source to keep stock tanks from freezing closed in frigid temperatures.  The Ice Bull Automatic Ice Prevention System is engineered to automatically open when the stock tank water temperature falls below 42 degrees Fahrenheit.

    When the Ice Bull sensor valve opens, .20 gallons per minute of warmer water bypasses the float valve and flows into the tank through the discharge hose.  Then, when the water temperature rises above 42 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermo valve shuts off.  The Ice Bull Sensor is pictured below:


    Ice Bull Auto Ice Prevention System

     


    In Conclusion

    We hope that this has been a helpful guide to valves.  While not all valve types are listed in this post, you have certainly enhanced your general knowledge and should be better prepared to choose the correct valve for your desired application needs.

    Don't forget to confirm in any application - the solution passing through the valve, operating pressure range, maximum pressure, and temperature of the solution and always confirm chemical compatibility.

    As always, thanks for stopping by and come back soon.

    (0) Resicore & Learning Which Elastomers Work

    Did you or your customers apply the product labeled as Resicore last season?  Any issues with elastomers in pumps, seals, fittings, etc. failing?  We had quite the troubleshooting experience with this product over the past 2017 season.  Our partner, Dura Products, has invested a significant amount of resources to ensure this problem has been resolved.  We feel confident in their findings and want to make sure that you are well informed when working with this product.

    In the 2017 season we sold a significant amount of Dura Auto Batch Systems and ran into some seal failures at the two to four week operation period.  Failure from a Dura Product after such a short amount of time is extremely rare and once Dura Products was notified they immediately went to work finding the culprit behind these seal failures.

    Testing and Findings

    After weeks of research and testing, Dura Products concluded that the product, Resicore, could be causing the findings.  Resicore is a Dow AgroSciences product which is used as a corn herbicide and was widely used in 2017 - there are thoughts that more will be applied in 2018.  Once we were able to identify a common theme across these product failures Dura Products began testing multiple elastomers to determine their longevity when completely immersed in the solution.  Here are the compatibility recommendations from Dow AgroSciences Bulk Storage and Handling Guide:


    Resicore Bulk Storage and Handling Guide


    The only materials that are acceptable for constant contact and greater longevity with the product Resicore include stainless steel, Teflon, ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UMHW), High & Low-Density Polypropylene and silicone rubber.  Of all these options silicone is the only elastomer that was found to be acceptable for constant contact- over an extended period of time.

    Furthermore, it was found that polypropylene, a common plastic used in pump housings and pipe fittings, is actually only moderately acceptable.  Dura Products' research found that polypropylene only lasts about 175 days before deterioration is evident.

    The Solution For Resicore Transfer

    We want to ensure that your products operate when you need them to operate and that they operate in the manner they are designed to operate.  Research that Dow AgroSciences has provided and silicone elastomers that Dura Products has developed helps us to ensure that your operation continues to run smoothly.


    Shop Dura Products Now


    If you are handling Resicore in the future you must be aware of the recommended compatibility of the wetted materials of construction for Resicore are Stainless steel, Teflon, Ultra High Molecular Weight Polypropylene, High and low-density polypropylene. The ONLY elastomer that you should be using is silicone.


    Below is a photo of a soak test conducted by Dura Products: Viton seal on the left and Silicone seals on the right.

    Viton Oring Damaged by Resicore   Silicone Oring Withstands Resicore

     


    Throughout Dura Products testing and experiments, it was concluded that silicone was the best-suited elastomer for constant contact with the product labeled Resicore.

    As you can see, Resicore has compromised the integrity of the Viton elastomer.  It has also slightly discolored the O-ring.  These are both clear identifying qualities of a chemical compatibility issue.  Given the same testing parameters, the silicone elastomer held up just fine - as it is compatible with Resicore.  Here is another blog post that further explains the importance of doing your research and homework to ensure chemical compatibility.

    Whenever questions arise due to chemical compatibility, it's absolutely necessary to consult the material handling guide of the product you are applying or handling.  In this instance, when reading the handling guide - Dow AgroSciences specifically states that stainless steel is preferred when transferring the Resicore product.  The Resicore handling guide specifies these materials below:

    Stainless Steel, Glass Lined Steel or Epoxy coated carbon steel - OK Rating - Comment: Stainless Steel is preferred.

    Silicone Rubber - OK Rating - Comment: Preferred Elastomer.

    Polypropylene (High and Low Density), Teflon, Ultra High Molecular Weight Polypropylene - OK Rating - Comment: Good Resistance, High-Density Polypropylene preferred.

    Viton, SBR - Caution Rating - Comment: May swell and soften moderately, may have a useful life for short time periods.

    Mild Carbon Steel, Brass, Copper, Aluminum - NO Rating - Comment: Moderate to Severe corrosion due to the products low pH level.

    PVC, ABS, Acetal, and Nylon - NO Rating - Comment: Disintegrates, embrittles or stress cracks.

    Buna N, Neoprene, EPDM, and Hyplon - NO Rating - Comment: Severe swelling, softening or absorption.

    In Conclusion

    Always make sure that you consult the label of the product which you are applying and/or handling.  Furthermore, we are happy to continually be a source knowledge such as this blog post.  If this post was useful and relevant please, don't hesitate to share it with your friends and colleagues.  Take care.

    (0) Dicamba and Proper Application Techniques

    With the big shift in application products and techniques taking place in 2017, many of the foundational principles still remain in 2021. The biggest principle is to ensure that you "stay on label" when applying Dicamba products. Strict adherence to label instructions will help reduce liability greatly. We know that wind and humidity are major factors when selecting application day(s) and time(s). Now that the country has a few solid seasons of good spraying data, we can look back and use the data to help us continue to progress forward and improve applications.

    One major change to the market place since this blog was posted back in October of 2017 is the Bayer-Monsanto merger. This merger has brought together two titans in the ag-chemical world and has further consolidated the marketplace. In the write up below there is some good information regarding application and snapshot in time of where we started out when not much was yet known with these products.

    One thing is for certain - Dicamba is here to stay and we, as an industry, need to continue to stress the importance of training and proper application techniques. Firsthand experience tells us that these products, when applied correctly, smoke RoundUp Ready resistant weeds. Our farm on the Nebraska/Kansas border has much cleaner fields after having made the switch two seasons ago. But, Mother Nature always finds a way to survive....That begs the question - how long before we start to see Dicamba-resistant weeds?

    Dicamba Leading up to 2017 and In-Season 2017

    Herbicide-resistant weeds have been expanding across the country for the better part of the past decade.  Crop protection product companies such as Monsanto and Dow Chemical along with seed companies such as Syngenta have come up with multiple options to help combat these pestering weeds.  The most promising solution appears to be within the Dicamba-resistant strains that were first made available for the 2017 season.  Even before these seeds began appearing in fields in early 2017 there was a significant amount of skepticism.

    Many people shared the sentiment that Dr. Kevin Bradley expressed at the Wisconsin Crop Production Association annual meeting in January 2017.  Dr. Bradley stated, "There is no question the Dicamba option is coming, there's no question about it.  But it's another question altogether whether we can steward this technology, and time will tell if that's true or not."  He also pointed out the volatility of Dicamba and how finite amounts of this product could damage crops.

    By the middle of 2017 states such as Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee had already received multiple complaints from growers of suspected Dicamba damage.  It is estimated that more than 3.1 million U.S. acres have suffered from Dicamba-related crop damage (Crop Life: Special Report Managing Weed Resistance).  Arkansas is actually on the verge of banning the application of Dicamba products - completely.

    Even if it doesn't get banned it has been voiced that application restrictions will make it virtually impossible to actually apply the product.  For example, if you can only spray the product with winds between 3-10 mph you don't have much of a window in the Midwest.  We don't have too many days during spray season with winds between 3-10 mph.  By the time you're able to actually spray (within regulations), it's too late because the weed plant is too far along to actually kill.  This scenario is speculation, but is certainly a real possibility.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that Monsanto actually sued the Arkansas State Plant Board in October.  This came after the board's decision to ban Monsanto's new herbicide.  Monsanto claims its herbicide is being held to an unfair standard.  Arkansas has been the focal point of complaints with almost 900,000 acres of crop damage reported.  It is noted that farmers in 25 states have submitted more than 2,700 claims to state agricultural agencies.  The complaints share the common theme of neighbors' Dicamba spray drift and account for 3.6 million acres of total reported crop damage.


    Dicamba Damage Across Midwest

     


    Dultmeier Insight from In-Field Observations

    Our traveling sales representatives found evidence of Dicamba-related damage in a widespread area of our travels.  The conventional beans that were affected appeared to be "cupped".  The plants didn't canopy until later in the season - much later than normal.  We will start to know how much of an impact this chemical had on yields as the combines get in the fields and begin to report yields.  Some actually thought it could have a positive impact on yields since 2,4-D is a growth killer.

    Some of the Dicamba products are derived from the chemical 2,4-D which basically grows a plant to death by oversupplying it with hormones.  The thought process behind this theory is that if the plant pulls through the "cupping" stage and comes out of it, the farmer could actually see a yield bump.  Again, that theory is yet to be proven...Below is an image of soybeans cupping due to Dicamba damage.


    dicamba soybean damage

     


    Even though many conventional fields were harmed there were much cleaner soybean fields this summer versus 2016 - at least in the areas we traveled.  The conclusion being, it worked - for those fields that were Dicamba-resistant seeds.  But we did see a number of conventional fields that looked awful.  They looked awful from the perspective that the soybean plants were small and sickly looking.  That being said - weeds were not present - so you can make the argument that the Dicamba did kill the weeds.


    Show Me Popular DiCamba Approved Spray Tips


    Drift is a major topic when the phrase "Dicamba" is brought up.  We even had one customer in the Polk, NE area that mentioned they witnessed product from an applied field actually lift up and move to an adjacent field a week after it had been applied - an entire week later!  You can ask the chemical companies and they will say that's not possible.  The proof is in the pudding, folks - there are many instances similar to this over the past year.  If we have learned any lesson, it's that these Dicamba products are extremely volatile and we must continue to educate, educate, educate.



    Training and How Crucial It Is

    There is a simple and basic rule to follow: The Label is the Law.  If you are applying a product with a spray tip that is not on the label and you damage a neighbor's crops - you're liable.  If you are running a spray tip that is on-label, but operating out of the required pressure range or spraying in too heavy of wind and damages a neighbor's crop - you're liable.  The days of using one tip for every chemical applied are long gone.  An applicator must be 100% certain they are operating within parameters specified on the product label.


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    Always consult your label if you have questions about what application products or techniques you should be using.  For instance, a common theme is wind speed.  Labels limit wind speeds between 3-10 mph on many of the Dicamba products.

    It has been mentioned that during periods of high temperatures and high humidity vapor drift can readily be witnessed up to three days after application.  Recall our example from Polk, NE and know that vapor drift from inversion has been documented outside that three-day window.  What is inversion?  Inversion takes place generally from 3 pm to 8 am the following day.

    Generally, air near the ground is warmer while the air higher up away from the earth's surface is cooler.  When an inversion takes place the opposite happens.  Colder air is closer to the earth's surface and the warmer air is higher up - away from the earth's surface.  This phenomenon can commonly be seen in the fall around harvest time - when soybeans are cut and the dust hangs in the air it can be reasonably assumed that an inversion is taking place.  Tiny spray droplets will "hang" in the colder air and can float around on slight breezes.

    Driftable fines of these Dicamba-based products have been found to drift miles from the application site.  Due to this fact, the spray tips that are approved are those that create a larger and coarser droplet through air induction.  Such as Teejet's Turbo Teejet Induction Nozzle.

    There is a wide selection of approved tips from various manufacturers such as Wilger, Hypro, Teejet, and Greenleaf.  Remember, always consult your specific product label to ensure the tips you are choosing from are actually approved - you need to be on-label to safely and responsibly apply these products.  Furthermore, you can visit these chemical websites as additional resources: BASF - Engenia & Monsanto - XtendiMax.

    As of mid-October 2017, Monsanto has voluntarily proposed to offer further educational programs to ensure farmers have success with the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System for the 2018 season.  These updates include mandatory training, new recordkeeping requirements, and a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) designation.  This will limit the sale and use to certified applicators or those acting under their supervision. All of these steps are supported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).   The new recordkeeping requirements will better track label compliance and help protect farmers using the Xtendimax system - as long as they follow the product accordingly - adhering to all label instructions.

    Equipment Rinsing & Maintenance

    Thorough clean-out is a must for any equipment used in Dicamba application.  Applicators must keep the sprayer completely clean after Dicamba applications.  Due to the volatility of the product if there is any residual left in the plumbing system of a sprayer it will be applied at the next application site and drift from there.  Triple rinse with fresh water has become the industry standard.  Check out this other blog post for rinse-out techniques and tips.

    This triple rinse process includes the entire plumbing system - strainers, screens, dead spots in the booms, nozzles, valves, pumps, etc.  Hypro has designed their Express Boom End Cap to aid in flushing booms.  Similarly, Wilger has come up with their own design to fit CASE IH Patriot sprayers.  Both of these products help eliminate dead space in the boom where residual chemical builds up and can cause headaches - major headaches when dealing with Dicamba products.

    Furthermore, we have had a small handful of customers actually install chemical weighing systems solely for the dispensing and selling of Dicamba-products.  This keeps the product completely and totally isolated from any others in their inventory to avoid contamination.  Here is an example of Junge Control's Chemical Weighing System.



    Moving Forward and What that Means for Dicamba

    So what does all of this mean for the future of Dicamba-products and how widely used they will or will not become in the near future?  One side can make the case that due to the number of claims and issues that were found this past season, more farmers will plant the Dicamba-resistant seeds in 2018 as nothing more than an insurance policy.  After all, we did hear, in a number of instances, that growers actually planted the Dicamba-resistant seeds in 2017 solely as an insurance policy.  They knew their neighbors would be spraying Dicamba and chose to use this method as an insurance policy.

    The other side could argue that due to the widespread damage created by the conventional seed vs. Dicamba-resistant seed issues this past year we might not have any Dicamba-resistant seeds available for 2018 planting.  Arkansas is leading the regulation wave here.  They are about one step away from banning Dicamba-based products altogether, at the time of this writing.  There are a handful of other states that are leaning in this same direction.  However, there are times when the market will actually overtake regulation.  Demand is a powerful force and we could see that process take effect very soon.

    In my travels as a territory sales representative over the past four years, I have seen glyphosate-resistant weeds migrating north from central Kansas to central Nebraska - over 300 miles.  Each year the soybean fields get dirtier and dirtier - and the number of dirty fields has been increasing - at an alarming pace.  2017 was the first year I actually noticed a number of fields that were "clean".

    Weeds raise hell not only on crops, but on equipment as well.  Some fields have gotten so bad that one cannot run a combine through them.  They were just cut for silage.  We heard of many instances where growers spent twice their normal budgeted amount on combating/controlling weeds in 2017.

    When it gets to the point where you spray a field five times (I heard this nightmare more than once) and still cannot get a kill on the weeds - you need to do something different.  A wise old man by the name of Albert Einstein once said, "Doing something over and over while expecting different results is the definition of insanity."

    "The vast majority of farmers using our low-volatility Dicamba product have had tremendous success in 2017, both with on-target applications and good weed control," says Ty Vaughn, Monsanto's Global Regulatory Lead.  "The product was extensively tested for volatility and other forms of off-target movement before it was made available to farmers this season.  We are confident XtendiMax can continue to be used successfully in the System next season."

    Mother Nature is forcing our hand and we need to adopt alternative methods to combat weeds.  Say that Dicamba-based products are outlawed.  It doesn't mean it will keep growers and producers in this country from finding a way to improve their yields and solve this weed issue.  The market creates the demand and demand is a powerful force.


    Xtendimax Label (pdf)


    Changes in Dicamba Application for 2018

    The long-standing USDA/EPA requirements for Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) application is as follows:

    • Product Name
    • EPA Registration Number
    • Total Amount Applied to the Field
    • Date of Application (M/D/Y)
    • Location of Application (legal descriptions, longitude/latitude, etc.)
    • Crop Name (Xtend soybeans, NOT just 'soybeans')
    • Size of Area Treated (in acres)
    • Name of Certified Applicator
    • Applicator Certification License Number
    The additional requirements for 2018 are as follows:
    • Proof of Dicamba - Specific Training (NDA website is OK)
    • Receipt(s) of Purchase of RUP Dicamba used
    • Product Label (Not Required to be On Person at Time of Application)
    • Buffer Distanced Maintained - Consult Product Label
    • Evidence of Susceptible Crops Nearby (Date that this Review was Conducted)
    • Start and Finish Time of Application (include AM or PM)
    • Pre or Post Emergence Application - if Post Emergence Notate How Many Days After Planting
    • Air Temperature at Boom Height at Start and Stop Times
    • Wind Speed and Direction at Boom Height at Start and Stop Time
    • Tank Mix Partners - Including all Non-Pesticide Products.  If Other Pesticides are Included, Records Must Show EPA Regulation Numbers for Each Product
    • Spray System Cleanout Procedure.  At a Minimum, Records Must Indicate Spray System Was Clean Before Application was Made and What Cleanout Procedure was Used.  Date of Cleanout is Required

    Furthermore, each state may go above and beyond the requirements listed here so be sure to check your local state regulations BEFORE applying RUP products.

    If you enjoyed this read, please, feel free to share with family, friends, and/or associates.  Be safe out there.


    Grant Me Free Access to Parts Library

    (0) How to Rinse & Winterize Your Sprayer

    Step-by-Step of How to Properly Winterize a Spray Unit

    In order to begin you need to ensure that your entire system has been evacuated of the solution(s) you were spraying with the unit.  That means you need to evacuate the pump housing, hoses, strainers, tank(s), spray wands, etc.  Start at the tank and run through the entire plumbing system - no component of the system that comes in contact with liquid should be left out of this process.  If something is neglected, odds are good that you will have issues when you go to start up next season.  Let's avoid that at all costs.  Here's how....

    Any system should be thoroughly flushed with clean water.  Industry standards recommend a triple rinse.  Add one-half tank of fresh water and flush all tanks, lines, booms, nozzles, wands, etc. for no less than fifteen minutes.  Do this using a combination of agitation and spraying.  Remember that rinsates (solution you create while flushing your system) does contain residual from your system.  Therefore, any pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc. that you were spraying will be flushed from the system out of your orifice(s).  Do not allow rinsates to flow into streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, floor drains, sewers, or sinks.


    Sprayer Wash Down Rinse

     


    It's best practice to use containment pads such as these to collect rinsates and then apply them to labeled sites at or below labeled rates.  If possible, consider rinsing the system at the application site.  Furthermore, the product label should specify best rinse practices - always consult the product label.  Lastly, proper protective clothing should be worn to avoid chemical contact with any exposed skin.

    Remember, many of the chemicals out there are designed to kill living organisms - that means it's not good to get it into your blood stream.  If you do get any product on exposed skin make sure to wash the contaminated area with soap and water immediately, for no less than 15 minutes.

    This is also a good time to clean strainers of any debris that was picked up during the past season.  By performing this task you will help ensure that you don't starve your pump and blow out seals when you start up next season.  Here is another post on pump cavitation to further explain how detrimental this can be.  Sloppy clean up practices are a main cause of equipment failure or malfunctions.  You're here to prevent that and avoid expensive down time.

    You can create a cleaning solution by doing the following:

    1. Fill the tank with fresh water and the recommended cleaning solutions or tank cleaner.
    2. Agitate this solution for no less than 15 minutes.
    3. Add one of the following to 50 gallons of fresh water.
      1. Two quarts of household ammonia (let sit in sprayer overnight for herbicides such as 2,4-D or Dicamba. It's recommended to consult your label for recommended cleaning agents*)
      2. Or add four pounds of trisodium phosphate cleaner detergent. (It's recommended to consult your label for recommended cleaning agents*)
    4. Operate spray booms or wands long enough to ensure all lines and orifices are filled with the cleaning solution.
    5. Let the solution stand in the system for no less than three hours.
    6. Agitate and spray the solution onto suitable areas for rinsate solution.
    7. Add more fresh water and rinse the system again by using a combination of agitation and spraying.
    8. Remove strainers, screens, regulators, etc. and clean in a separate bucket of your cleaning solution.
    9. Rinse and flush the system again with fresh water.

    Don't neglect the fact that, any product left in the plumbing system, that is allowed to dry, is much more difficult to remove and will eventually build up enough to plug lines and orifices.  Plugged lines and orifices not only decrease the overall efficiency of your plumbing system, but will bring about a slough of other headaches.  Always wash down the external portion of the spray unit at the wash site, as well.  This helps to remove any external residue that the unit collected via spills or drift.

    Repairs

    Next, let's move on to the pump itself.  Remove the pump from the drive unit - generally on most skid sprayers this will be a gas engine.  It's always best practice to take the pump completely apart BEFORE you order repair parts.  For instance, you may order a complete overhaul kit and find that you really only needed to replace some gaskets.  We strongly recommend to get the pump opened up and thoroughly inspect it.

    Once you have completed this and have drawn up your parts list - only then should you order repair components.  We have an extensive parts breakdown file, to help you identify the correct parts you need.  In order to use this resource you need to know the manufacturer, pump type, and model number. Click here for access to our Parts Resources.   For additional resource videos see below.  The first video is for a Hypro 7560 roller pump.  The second video is for a Hypro D403 diaphragm pump.


     



    If you absolutely need to store your unit outdoors over the winter make sure to remove all hose and any polymer (plastic fittings, connections, etc.)  Some companies recommend adding lightweight oil such as diesel fuel or kerosene to a system for off-season storage.  We don't recommend this as oil-based products don't like EPDM elastomers.  For this reason, we suggest using a 50/50 mix of RV antifreeze and water.  We recommend this treatment for your entire plumbing system - whether you store your unit indoors or outdoors.  The reason we recommend this treatment is based upon experience.  We have had customers store units in temperature controlled environments, during the off-season, only to have their heat source fail.  This resulted in the pump housing cracking due to their own negligence.  If they would have charged the system with a solution that would not freeze they could have avoided an expensive surprise come spring.

    Here is another post on chemical compatibility and how it's worthwhile to perform due diligence.  Run this solution throughout the entire plumbing system for a minute or two in order to ensure that your total system is winterized and safe from freezing.

    It's also recommended to remove all gauges and store indoors if possible.  Change out your oil if you are running a diaphragm pump unit - this ensures you are ready to rock-n-roll come go-time next spring.  Remember, the main reason for failure or malfunction in any spray system is neglect and improper maintenance.  Lastly, make sure to replace air/oil filters on your gas engine.  Don't forget to add a fuel stabilizer treatment to your engine and run it for a few minutes to ensure the treatment reaches all internals of the engine.

    If you can ensure following these steps in your post season shut down process we know you will be in much better shape come next season.  All of your equipment should be good to go and ready when you - and more importantly - your customers need it to be.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great off-season.

    Sources:

    1. Some of the information in this post was found through The University of Nebraska-Lincoln the Cleaning Pesticide Application Equipment publication from August 2013.
    2. Hypro - Pentair