Winterizing Your Sprayer 101

top dressing wheat

Prepare for spring and prevent issues by winterizing equipment.

It’s always easy to procrastinate, especially when there is a million other things to get to first. Spending some extra time preparing your sprayer for winter may seem like the last thing on your to-do list, but experts say this will help prevent problems with sprayers come spring time.

If you have a sprayer pump malfunctioning or cracked in the spring, it may be because it was not properly winterized before temperatures fell. Applying herbicides in the spring is one of the most important things in preparing for a good crop. Ensure your money is being utilized where it should be. There’s no sense in spending extra cash on fixing sprayer pumps when it is preventable by preparation in the winter.

The Crop Observation and Recommendation Network (C.O.R.N.) newsletter featured Erdal Ozkan, ag engineering professor and spray technology expert with the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State University, where he included steps growers should take before putting sprayers away for the season.

RINSING: Prevent cross-contamination and clogging. Left over chemical can lead to change in flow rates, spray patterns, and uneven distribution of chemicals.

  • How To: 
    • Rinse whole system thoroughly.
    • Circulate clean water through the whole sprayer for several minutes with the nozzles off, then flush out.

CLEANING: Ensure cross-contamination problems don’t happen.

  • How To:
    • Use a cleaning solution mixed at a ratio of 1 part household ammonia to 100 parts water.
    • Check product label to make sure a special cleaning solution is not required.
    • Clean components on the outside of the sprayer as well.

WINTERIZING: Prevents freezing and cracked pumps.

  • How To:
    • Make sure no liquid is left inside any of the sprayer parts.
    • After draining water, add a small amount of oil and rotate the pump 4 to 5 revolutions to completely coat the interior surface.
    • If oil is not recommended for your sprayer, pour 1 tablespoon of radiator rust inhibitor in the inlet and outlet part of the pump.

STORAGE: Storing in a dry building protects against Mother Nature. If no building storage is available, provide whatever cover you can. This prevents rust, weakening and softening of rubber, and degrading of tank material.

FINAL LOOK: Check your sprayer over one last time before putting it away for the winter. Take note of parts that need worked on or replaced before spring. Check to make sure no cracks have started to form. Cover all openings to prevent rodents and birds from getting in the system.


Source: Ohio Farmer & Ohio Extension

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