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Don’t Let A Dirty Sprayer Damage Your Crops

June 24, 2009
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor

Rachel Duff, Farm Journal Intern

Crops may be subject to injury and contamination if the sprayer isn't properly cleaned, says Kristine Schaefer, Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Water alone is generally not enough to clean the sprayers, and it's important to follow instructions for cleaning on the label. Cleaning the sprayer is essential when using different products or when spraying a different crop, Schaefer says.

Residues in a sprayer cause the most risk when:

• Crops are sprayed with herbicides (or other pesticides) they are particularly sensitive to

• The product is very active in small amounts

• Residues from non-selective herbicides remain in spraying system

After treating with contaminated equipment, crops can be affected for up to several weeks, Schaefer says. Leaving the sprayer loaded or not cleaning soon after application can cause residue to remain in the sprayer. Even small amounts can cause injury to the crop.

Schaefer suggests these good cleaning practices:

Don't wait to clean. Sprayers can retain significant amounts of pesticide solution, even after they are considered empty. Dried pesticides are harder to remove than pesticides still in solution, as well.

Determine where to clean. The best place to dispose product rinse is usually in the field, consistent with the product's label.

Use the right cleaner. Cleaning agents should be selected based on the pesticide and formulation to be cleaned. Refer to the label for products and instructions.

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