In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Simple Solutions to Sprayer Problems
May 20, 2012
It's spraying season, time for panicked phone calls about sprayers that won't spray. One of the best diagnostic tools in my toolbox to figure out malfunctions in sprayers is a question: "What changed?"
If you just got done filling the sprayer's tank with chemicals, and it now has difficulty to get the machine to spray the right "gallons per acre," ask yourself, "What changed?" The machine was working fine before you added product to the tank, so my first guess is that whatever is causing the problem was accidentally added to the tank when it was filled. I'd check for filters/strainers plugged by a stray label off a herbicide jug, a notepad that fell out of your shirt pocket, or a clot of unmixed dry flowable herbicide. I've pulled all of those from the main strainers of sprayers that suddenly malfunctioned after filling.
If the sprayer is working fine and suddenly develops problems, I ask myself, "What changed?" If you just crossed a rough waterway and the automatic boom height control abruptly quits working, maybe you smacked the outer boom sensor into the ground and it's now not working, or out of alignment. Maybe the sprayer was working great last week, but when you return to the field after a rainy spell, it won't spray a consistent rate, or the boom height control does funny things. It could be that the crop has grown enough in the week's time so that the radar is getting inconsistent signals off the crop canopy rather than firm ground; or that the increased crop canopy is now preventing the automatic boom height sensors from "seeing" the ground and therefore giving the boom control system inconsistent height readings.
"What changed?" is a great diagnostic tool for sprayers and other pieces of farm equipment. It allows you to quickly narrow possible causes and pinpoint specific areas or components on the machine related to recent changes relevant to the problem.