Cleaning a field sprayer properly
Whether we are talking about nettle tea fertiliser and copper sulphate in biological agriculture or chemical substances in the conventional processes, when used responsibly, crop protection serves to ensure the yield of crops and to combat pests, fungi and pathogens in a targeted manner. However, when cleaning spray equipment such as a crop protection sprayer (also known as a field sprayer) between uses, it is very important to prevent product entries into the sewer system and properly remove residuals.
Cleaning crop protection sprayers according to legal guidelines
Pesticides are the centre of controversial discussions, meaning you should consider which products and quantities are applied to the field, and which field sprayer should be used. This usually means low doses spread onto suitably large surfaces Modern machines help to further reduce the use of fertilizer. Combine harvesters produce yield maps during field work, which provide information on the necessary amount of fertiliser. Depending on the design of the machines, crop protection can even be applied selectively per pest plant.
In order to clean the outside of a field sprayer, residues of any respective agent are rinsed off and diluted again. There are legal requirements for field spraying that vary from country to country and in Europe are based on Directive 2006/118/EC on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration. Many EU laws still apply in the UK, you will need to speak to the agency to find out the applicable laws. These laws have the goal of preventing high concentrations of pesticides entering the sewage system or ground water, with potentially dangerous consequences.
Cleaning out crop protection sprayers in the field
While the field sprayer’s automatic internal wash is running, while the internal cleaning of the crop protection sprayer is done automatically, the farmer or contractor has to do the external cleaning themselves. Once the spraying process is finished, you need to find an overgrown area where the cleaning of the crop protection sprayer can take place before leaving the field. This ensures that residues of the crop protection agent do not drip down when driving to the next field or farm and enter the sewage system as a product entry. If cleaning in the field is not possible, the field sprayer should be cleaned at least once a day.
Cold-water pressure washers without cleaning agents have become established parts of cleaning work. Since it is important to be independent of water and power supply infrastructure, battery-powered high-pressure cleaners or combustion engine models are suitable for this purpose. The battery-powered device is the more sustainable option because it avoids emissions. In addition, the user needs a water tank, for example a water barrel on tractors with front hydraulics, or a water supply on site.
In order to achieve good results and remove all pesticide residues, the mounted field sprayers should be washed thoroughly from top to bottom. Particularly dirty parts, such as the area around the filling dome or the sprayer boom must be washed for longer, with greater care in different directions due to the complex structure. The wheels of a trailed field sprayer must also not be forgotten In the area of sensitive electronics, hydraulics and sensors, reduce the water pressure and work at a greater distance. The waste water with the highly diluted pesticide can seep into the overgrown area.
Operators have to wear the personal protective equipment (PPE) provided for handling pesticides. This includes at least a rubber apron, goggles and gloves with long gauntlets.
Tip 1 – Do not use the fresh water supply to clean the outside of the sprayer:
Modern field sprayers have a fresh water supply which is used for the automatic internal cleaning of the pressure filter of the crop protection sprayer. This water is not to be used for external cleaning.
Tip 2 – When cleaning the crop protection sprayer, also clean the tractor:
If the field sprayer is pulled by a tractor, the particularly dirty parts of the tractor can be cleaned at the same time.
Cleaning field sprayers in the yard
If you are cleaning the field sprayer on the farm, there are precise specifications for the construction of the washing area. The floor slab must be impermeable to liquids and the dirty water must be drained off via a predefined drain with filter and retention device. It is important to clean the filter system at the specified intervals. A pressure washer and a wet/dry vacuum cleaner can be used for this purpose. The dirt removed, consisting of pesticides, oil, grease and paint from the machines, must be disposed of properly.
Another variant for collecting the dirty water at the wash station is a drainage basin. In this case, the water evaporates, and the residues are broken down by bacteria living on a carrier substance. The remaining residues must be removed regularly, which can also be done with a pressure washer. Since the evaporation basins are cleaned one after the other, the dirty water that occurs when cleaning one basin can be collected in the next one.
When it comes to cleaning the crop sprayer, wash stations offer greater flexibility than cleaning in the field in terms of cleaning tools. It is possible to use a portable cold water pressure washer or a pressure washer with a hot water supply. Warm water gets better results faster and reduces drying time. It is also possible to use a biodegradable detergent with a cup foam lance. Since cleaning foam adheres better than a normal cleaning agent, the foam cleaning agent is more effective and speeds up the cleaning process.
Fertiliser spreaders, field cultivation machines, seeding equipment, there are many different types of equipment needed on modern farms. The cleaning procedures are often roughly similar, and yet there are differences that need to be taken into account to avoid damage or the spread of germs.
Machines and implements in agriculture are designed for continuous use and are constantly exposed to the effects of weather as well as dirt and dust in the working environment. Regular cleaning makes an important contribution to maintaining their function and value. At the same time, cleaning implements after use in the field can break the chain of infection so that pests are not carried from one field to the next.