New Miller spray system reduces rates,improves weed control, efficiency
Published in Farm Weekly May 29, 2017
BEING able to reduce water rates when spraying has seen an improvement in the performance of herbicides for Wubin grower Garry Cail.
Garry has cut water rates down to 28 litres per hectare, and now uses only 2L/ha of glyphosate during their summer spraying program for an early knockdown.
He attributes those results solely to an upgrade of their spraying system last season, to a self-propelled (SP) sprayer using Spray-Air technology.
Garry and his wife, Natalie, farm more than 7000 hectares at Wubin, the majority of which is dedicated to cropping.
This season, they sowed a 5000ha program comprising wheat, barley, canola and lupins.
Between summer knockdowns and in-crop applications, spraying takes up a considerable amount of time for Garry – who prefers to do the job himself rather than rely on others.
Prior to upgrading, the Cails had a 7000L Sonic 37-metre (120-foot) tow-behind boom with an AirMatic system, which they had been using for about four years.
“We were looking to go to a SP sprayer for the speed of spraying, dust issues and all the advantages it offered,” Garry said.
“We refused to go to the expense of an SP sprayer unless it was comparable or gave us an advantage technology-wise.”
After some research and careful consideration, last April they took delivery of a Miller Nitro 5333, 37m (120ft) SP sprayer with Spray-Air technology, purchased through McIntosh and Son at Wongan Hills.
“The Spray-Air had droplet control with the ability to spray at a lot lower water rate, so suddenly we had the option to potentially spray 10 kilometres per hour faster than a tug-along, at lower water rates,” Garry said.
“You could do more hectares per mix at a faster rate – and that was the main reason we upgraded.”
The Spray-Air system allows for more targeted chemical applications through air-assist and air-atomisation technology, forming one powerful spray nozzle system.
Drivers have fingertip control of the droplet size and speed of the air delivery for any spraying application.
“We like the Spray-Air system and it has given us significant advantages,” Garry said.
“With the Sonic, we were doing a lot of our knockdown spraying at seeding time at water rates of 100L/ha and the only way we could achieve those water rates was using Flexi-N, so we had half water and half Flexi-N.
“We just couldn’t keep that much water up to the sprayer any other way.
“With the Spray-Air system, we’re able to spray at 40-50L/ha with our knockdown in front of the seeder, so we’re able to keep the water up easily.
“Another big advantage we saw when we were doing our knockdown summer spraying, is that we were spraying at 28L/ha when we go in early and getting over 200ha per mix.”
Garry said being able to spray 400ha per night comfortably, and as much as 800ha, made it a much faster process.
He said they had been quite surprised with the increased efficiency achieved – in both the hectares covered and the reduction in water and chemical rates.
“We are absolutely convinced that the knockdown sprays are working better with the low water rates, because you have a higher chemical concentration.’’
“We only use 2L/ha of glyphosate for all our summer spraying now. We don’t bother putting any other chemical in because it works that well.
“So we buy glyphosate as cheap as we can and we can get away with doing our summer spraying for around $7/ha.
“We’re happy to use the best adjuvants now, because if you use something more expensive and only do 28L/ha, you still only use the same amount because the adjuvants work on a total tank volume. So suddenly it’s a much more affordable option.
“I’m confident now to go with a lot lower water rates with everything, which gives us a significant logistical advantage, plus the fact we’re covering more ground.”
The comfort of the cab in the Nitro 5333 and the ease of having a front-mounted boom had also made a big difference for Garry, making night spraying and working long hours a lot easier.
He admitted he was initially nervous about the front-mounted boom and having the chemicals out in front, but those concerns were quickly forgotten after stepping into the cab.
The Nitro has a high clearance of 1.8m and a safe, pressurised, charcoal filtration SprayView cab, ensuring growers stay safe.
“After using the SP, I don’t think I would ever be able to go back to a rear-mounted boom,” Garry said.
“Not only is it nicer and easier to drive, but you spray the paddocks out neater because you can drive right into the square of a corner, because the boom is in the front.
“We haven’t had any weeds come up at all on the headland turns and fence lines.”