Restarting the sprayer after the winter months is an important step to carry out the first treatments of the year successfully. Focus on the different aspects of machine maintenance, point by point, and its stakes. Article written in collaboration with Sonia Laurent, Good practices engineer at Bayer.
Like a tractor or combine harvester, the sprayer requires regular maintenance and adjustment to ensure proper operation. Restarting your machine after winter storage gives you an ideal opportunity to carry out the usual tests and checks. Maintenance consists mainly of observing and cleaning the main components of the machine.
The spraying circuit must for example be inspected several times. If the machine was completely drained during its winter storage, fill the tank with water and run it to rewet the seals and detect any leaks. The other inspection operations include draining the pump, checking the condition of the membranes (in the case of piston membrane pumps) and making sure that the main filters and the sieve are clean. It is recommended to test the “speed” information on the control box, and ensure that it is correctly processed.
Booms should also be inspected: it may be necessary to tighten the bolts, touch-up the paint (if liquid nitrogen is used), or check the hinge pins. The suspension system must be in perfect condition. The anti-drip membranes of the nozzle heads must be inspected: below 1 bar pressure, spraying should not be activated. Finally, the general condition and nozzle flow must be checked. You can use measuring cylinders and a stopwatch to compare the flow of the nozzles in place with that of new nozzles. If the nozzle flow is not uniform, the used nozzles must be replaced. Some nozzles may be clogged, others will have an increased flow due to a damaged orifice.
A well maintained sprayer above all ensures an efficient management of the treatment station. Precise adjustments will prevent wastage, or more generally wrong dosages: the volume of spray mixture will precisely match with the volume spread, and the product will be applied at the right dose and in a uniform way on the target. «Mechanical» reconditioning (tyres, etc.) will optimise fuel consumption and the life of the machine. What is at stake is the effectiveness of spraying, environmental impacts and the life of the equipment.
- Fill the tank with water and run it.
- Check that there is no leakage in the spray circuit and the «speed» information on the control box.
- Drain the pump and check the condition of the membranes.
- Ensure the cleanliness of the main filters and the condition of the sieve.
- Maintenance of the booms and the suspension system: tighten the bolts, touch up the paint, check the hinge pins.
- Examine the condition of the anti-drip membranes of the nozzle heads.
- Check the condition and flow of the nozzles.