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TRACTOR WITH SPRAYER

Small Vineyard Sprayer

What do grape growers do with all their extra time if they don't have to worry about insects, fungi, etc. If there are any of you out there who are so blessed, we would love to hear from you.

Most of us have to engage in a pest control program by maintaining scheduled applications of pesticide material. We only have to do this if we are interested in producing a crop and maintaining healthy vines.

Some years, we get lucky. The weather is so mild and dry that the threat of mildew is substantially reduced (in Maryland, '97 through '99 were great). Other years, rainfall keeps us at near panic level (e.g. Maryland, or was it the Brazilian rain forest, 1996).

But, this page is mostly about the sprayer in the picture. The best feature of this homemade lash-up is that it is mounted in the Spring and removed after the last spray of the season. The operator doesn't have to engage in a wrestling match before and after each spray application. The vertical spray boom may be installed, or removed in about five seconds. Everything else stays mounted. A "ni-resist" PTO pump is necessary to avoid internal corrosion during the season.

With this mounting arrangement, the three point hitch is available for other uses during the season, but some implements cannot be raised to full height. Herbicide is applied from a separate tank on the three point hitch, but utilizing the same PTO pump as the pesticide sprayer (note two yellow capped hose fittings at rear of sprayer). As long as the operator remembers to isolate the sprayer system by closing all valves (we forgot once) and to clean the pump thoroughly (have not forgotten yet) there is no threat of herbicide contamination to the sprayer.

Being a high volume sprayer, applications are a maximum of 60 gallons per acre. The 30 gallon tank in the picture would require two fillings per acre at peak season when all five nozzles are in use. A fifty gallon tank, could be mounted (even on this small tractor), but a 50 would still require partial refilling at peak season (so why bother?). At 55 psi, this rig begins to mimic its more efficient cousin, the air blast sprayer, by putting out a fine mist that drifts through the row. Of course, this level of pressure contributes to higher tank mix consumption per acre.

Since this picture was taken, one very important feature has been added. A new canopy over the operator sports a drop-down waterproof fabric mist shield for operator protection. Even with the shield, a respirator is recommended.

The spray boom is made from 3/4" pvc. We have broken a few, so we recommend using the cheapest material and fittings for the boom. The nozzle bodies are transferable to the new boom.

If your operation cannot justify an air blast, and you are willing to put a sprayer together from parts, consider a seasonal mount arrangement such as this one. By reducing your number of sprayer mounts to one per season, you will have minimized one of the grape grower's time consuming and physically challenging tasks.


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