Unlike in Germany where farmers cannot spray each year until the government checks calibration, U.S. farmers are still free to apply (or misapply) with nozzles of any age or type, into any environmental condition.

However, EPA's current language in its proposed new labeling statement for spray drift mitigation may be moving us closer to greater government regulation of spraying equipment and practices.

Proposed changes to label statements (docket OPP-00730) currently include “draft” language that would allow zero drift from the application site, enforce boom height of no more than 4 ft. and allow no application if wind speed is above 10 mph. To view this draft on the Internet, go to www.epa.gov/opppmsd1/PR_Notices/prdraft-spraydrift801.htm.

Regardless of label language that may be approved, you can almost count on increased regulation. The best advice now is to make sure your spraying operation is as proficient as possible. With this in mind, we queried several major nozzle manufacturers about new products that can aid spraying efficiency and efficacy.

Greenleaf Technologies

Greenleaf, first to introduce the European concept of air-induction nozzles in the U.S. in 1995 with the TurboDrop, now offers the new AirMix nozzle. “The whole idea behind the AirMix is to offer growers a more simple and economical air-induction nozzle that directly replaces their conventional nozzles and works at standard pressure of 20 to 60 psi,” says Will Smart, president of the company.

AirMix nozzles, when used properly, reduce the amount of driftable fines (minute droplets less than 100 microns in size that are prone to drift) found with conventional low-drift nozzles by 50 to 80%. “We feel the AirMix is the perfect choice for glyphosate applications, and it gives farmers versatility to apply other types of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides,” Smart says.

Introduced in Germany last year (where it is manufactured), the AirMix captured more than 50% of the total nozzle market for ag in its first year. “And this is a tough market because the government must check calibration and certify every sprayer before a farmer can use it,” Smart says.

He claims that in reduced spray volume trials at Louisiana State University using AirMix nozzles and Roundup UltraMax, researchers reduced application rate to 3 gpa with the AirMix and it achieved efficacy equal to that of a flat fan nozzle applying 10 gpa. “Glyphosate actually works better with less water, but there is a hesitancy to push people to lower gpa due to the drift issue. But with these types of nozzles, drift control is the easy part,” Smart says. He adds that his company doesn't encourage 3 gpa in the Midwest but that a 25 to 50% reduction in carrier volume using the AirMix is certainly possible.

“All air-injection nozzles will give you drift control,” Smart says. “You can also get less drift from coarse droplets by running older technology nozzles at lower pressure, but coverage and efficacy can suffer. Our TurboDrop and AirMix nozzles produce droplets with 50% air, allowing them to collapse and spread out for better coverage and efficacy.”

Greenleaf claims that other features of its AirMix include a unique air-cleaning system to prevent hole plugging; the ability to fit all standard caps; a compact size (⅞ in. long); and a droplet that is less course than those produced by other air-injection nozzles for better coverage at standard pressures. List price is $6.50/nozzle, but Smart says retail will be around $5 to $6. For more information, contact Greenleaf Technologies, Dept. FIN, Box 1767, Covington, LA 70434, 800/881-4832, www.turbodrop.com.

Hypro

Long known for quality pumps, Hypro is now a serious player in the nozzle business after acquiring both Lurmark and Precision Fitting & Valve two years ago. For 2002, Hypro offers a new Ultra Lo-Drift (ULD) spray tip with Dual Air Eduction Technology. This refinement of air induction provides reduced spray drift while maintaining high levels of spray coverage and retention at both low pressures (15 to 20 psi) and high pressures, according to Rex Guthland, senior product manager for Hypro.

“We designed the ULD to have a three-dimensional spray pattern, which differs from other air-induction tips, flat fan and flood tips because it's wider in the middle of the pattern with gradual tapered edges,” he explains. “Where other manufacturers try to control the pattern, this nozzle forms a pattern on its own to deliver larger droplets and significantly less driftable droplets than our competition at the same pressures and flow rates.”

The ULD is precision molded in polyacetal. It has a wide pressure range of 15 to 115 psi; is a good fit with sprayer controllers; produces large, air-filled droplets to reduce drift and promote crop penetration; and produces a 120∞ wide and open flat fan spray pattern with tapered edges for uniform overlap. Price: $5.35 to $8/nozzle.

Also new, for improved handling and safety, is a FastCap design with the tip and gasket built into the cap. “Handling a cap, spray tip and gasket with gloves on has always been a challenge as well as a chemical exposure concern, so we combined all these into our FastCap to reduce these challenges,” Guthland says. Price: $6.50 to $11/nozzle.

For more information, contact Hypro Corp., Dept. FIN, 375 Fifth Ave. N.W., New Brighton, MN 55112, 651/766-6300, www.hypropumps.com.

Spraying Systems

Spraying Systems, maker of industry-leading TeeJet products, has several new products for 2002.

To improve convenience and safety, the company offers the new AIC (air-induction) tip/cap or XRC (extended range) tip/cap that combines the features of the regular nozzles with the convenience of a one-piece tip and cap assembly. Each product provides a 110° tapered edge flat spray, uses VisiFlo color coding and has a self-retained gasket.

The AIC produces coarse droplets through the use of a pre-orifice and venturi air aspirator, resulting in less potential drift. It is being offered initially with a stainless steel or polymer orifice in four different sizes. Price: $5.05 to $10.98/nozzle.

The XRC can be used across a wide range of pressures to provide small droplets at high pressures for thorough coverage, and coarser droplets at lower pressures for reduced drift. It is being offered with a stainless steel, ceramic or polymer orifice in four different sizes. Price: $2.78 to $6.04/nozzle.

“We're seeing a lot more Midwest farmers switch to using air-induction nozzles for application of Roundup, due to drift issues, because AI nozzles give larger droplets with less driftable fines,” says Tim Stuenkel, technical services manager for TeeJet. “But we do caution growers about using these nozzles with certain drift retardant additives, because sometimes the spray angle can be impacted.”

New for farmers and applicators who own self-propelled sprayers and want to add fertilizer capability is the QJ360F multiple outlet nozzle body. This version provides many of the same features as the current QJ360A nozzle body with an additional outlet that can be used for high-rate fertilizer applications.

In addition to the high-flow fertilizer outlet, the body features a rotating turret, which can be equipped with either three, four or five outlets, and a hinged, wet-boom mounting clamp designed to fit 1-in. pipe. The QJ360F uses Quick TeeJet outlet connections for attaching a variety of TeeJet tips and caps. It has a 300-psi pressure rating and provides 2.25-gpm flow through the turret with a 5-psi pressure drop, and 3.4-gpm flow through the fertilizer outlet with a 5-psi pressure drop. Price: $15.21 to $18.60/body. For more information, contact Spraying Systems Co., Dept. FIN, Box 7900, Wheaton, IL 60189, 630/665-5000, www.teejet.com.

Lechler

This German-based company is a leading maker of precision spray nozzles for applications in manufacturing, environmental engineering and agriculture. Although the century-old company is well known in Europe and other parts of the globe, Lechler recently launched a new North American subsidiary, an agricultural products division, to introduce its products here.

“While we realize our ID air-induction nozzles for low-drift application have taken off more in Europe, we're committed now to greater efforts here to obtain U.S. data on our products, rather than using European data,” says Mark Casey, manager of its new agricultural products division.

For 2002, Lechler plans to introduce its ID nozzle line that it has sold in Europe for several years. It also launched a more compact version of the nozzle, called the IDK, at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. The company claims that the low-drift performance of its IDK air-induction nozzle, which operates in a range of 15 to 90 psi, is the same as or better than that of a Turbo TeeJet. Lechler says that the ID's great drift protection is due to its full-length nozzle body. “Our nozzles will deliver a larger droplet size along with all the other advantages of air-induction nozzles, and it will be priced competitively with the Turbo TeeJet,” Casey adds.

“While Greenleaf was the first company to apply air-induction technology to low drift in a two-piece design, Lechler was the first to come out with a one-piece design where the tip has the chamber designed into it,” he says. “And our new IDK nozzle's shorter design will help alleviate concerns among growers who feel the ID nozzle body is too long.” Prices: ID nozzle, $5.79 to $9.99/nozzle; IDK, $3.99/nozzle.

Another new product the company will market to U.S. sprayer manufacturers is the Vario Select System that it recently introduced in Germany. It is a boom system that will allow the operator to select which nozzles will spray along the length of a boom, allowing for in-cab control of multiple nozzles per boom location, as well as control over any portion of the boom.

For more information, contact Lechler Inc., Agricultural Products Division, Dept. FIN, 445 Kautz Rd., St. Charles, IL 60174, 630/845-6851, www.lechlerag.com.

Lightbar guidance

Looking beyond nozzles, another new tool to add application efficiency is the TeeJet Guideline lightbar guidance system, manufactured by Midwest Technologies, a division of Spraying Systems. Midwest Technologies has added GPS-driven guidance to the TeeJet line to help producers achieve precise sub-meter swath guidance, adding efficiency to spraying, seeding, tillage and fertilizer application.

The durable, large, all-weather lightbar has adjustable brightness and can be mounted anywhere. “This is one feature where our lightbar is different than others, as we give users a large text display area with choice of different data to display,” says Rich Gould, director of sales and marketing for TeeJet Electronics. “A user can place this unit somewhere within his peripheral vision so he doesn't need to refocus his eyes constantly.”

The lightbar is paired with a companion Smartpad, a handheld computer with a backlit graphic display (running Windows CE). “Another unique feature we provide users is a real-time display on the screen of the operator's progress in the field, and it can even alert you to areas that have been skipped or warn you if entering an area already sprayed,” Gould adds. If data collection and record keeping are important, all information can be saved to a data card.

Simple in design, the Smartpad is easy for a novice to use, but it includes the extensive capabilities the experienced custom applicator wants. “This is a system that encourages an operator to do a better job, makes it easy to do that, and ends up saving time and cutting input costs,” Gould claims.

Cost of the system ranges from $2,495 for users who already have GPS, to $3,990 for a WAS-only GPS system, to $5,750 for a GPS system that can use multiple satellite/differential correction types and includes a data card and software. For more information, contact Midwest Technologies, 2864 Old Rochester Rd., Springfield, IL 62703, 217/753-8424, www.mid-tech.com.

Spray Parts R Us

One sprayer equipment manufacturer has decided to make it easier for farmers to get sprayer parts. Redball in Benson, MN, has released a new catalog that features a wide variety of high-quality sprayer components at competitive prices. To get a catalog, call toll-free 877/332-2551, or visit www.redballproducts.com and look under “spray parts ”

Nozzles get A+ for performance

Team FIN members Jack and Gary Appleby tested the new Lechler nozzles last summer when they applied Roundup to 600 acres of soybeans. The Atwood, IL, farmers report they could easily install the German-made nozzles on their Melroe spray coupe with 50-ft. booms. Overall, they were satisfied with the nozzles' performance.

“We were impressed with the nozzles,” Gary reports. “There was less drift and the drops were a little bigger [than those produced by other nozzles]. We didn't have a problem with plugging, either.”

“Now that we've used these nozzles, price is secondary,” Jack says. “We'll keep using them and hope to replace them when they wear out with new Lechler nozzles, if they are available.”