Sprayers are attracting a great deal of attention at the moment and that should not come as a surprise. As of 26 November 2016, the Sustainable Use Directive legislation requires all active pesticide application equipment to have a National Sprayer Testing Scheme certificate. This is not just for agricultural crop sprayers but also for grounds care professionals.
The legislation is designed to enhance the high level of protection achieved through the entire regulatory system for pesticides. It applies to all sprayers, aside from knapsack and handheld, and means that by 2020 sprayers with a boom width of 3m or more must have been tested within the past five years, at which point retesting will be required every three years. Sprayers with booms shorter than 3m only need to be tested every six years.
Ensuring sprayer efficiency and operator safety, the test also has the advantage that it can reduce costly downtime and provide savings in chemical use via application accuracy. But for some operators the new legislation has meant seeking out new equipment. Kit manufacturers have been busy with new developments to appeal to potential customers.
At BTME, the turf management show held in Harrogate in January, Reesink Turfcare showed a GeoLink Precision Spray System simulator. Complete with touchscreen and steering wheel, the simulator allowed show visitors to realistically demonstrate and experience application rates, coverage maps and area and volume data.
The GeoLink system is available for use with the Toro Multi-Pro 5800 and 1750. GPS technology and a single nozzle level control ensure that application is accurate to within 10mm.
Also making its BTME debut, the StarGreen range of sprayers for turf care professionals is designed and manufactured in York by Vale Engineering. Vale managing director James Wilson is proud of the new equipment. "StarGreen sprayers don't compromise on quality," he maintains. "Care and attention are taken from the product design stage through to the final assembly and pre-delivery inspection to make sure the products meet customers' expectations," he adds.
Wilson points to the boom lock catch and hose guides. "These are features which require thought at design stage. They barely increase manufacturing costs but make a significant different to the end-user experience." Of the triple pressure line filters, he adds: "Fiddly nozzle filters are a thing of the past with the StarGreen in-line pressure filters."
The range includes three models. StarGreen AS200, the entry-level sprayer, carries a 200-litre polypropylene tank on a Category 1 mild steel, powder-coated frame. The 6m manual-folding boom has a positive break-back action and locks shut for transport and storage. Flat fan nozzles are supplied as standard.
The Pro series of StarGreen sprayers includes four tank capacities - 300, 400, 600 and 800 litres. Again with mild steel powder-coated frames, these sprayers are finished to a high standard and feature three-cylinder diaphragm pumps plus 6m booms with three-section manual control complete with balanced return. The AS300 and AS400 Pro are designed for mounting to compact tractors for regular use on turf.
The latest sprayers in the range, the AS600 and AS800 Pro, are intended for applications to large areas and are aided by in-cab electric boom section controls as standard. Optional features include foam bout marker, triple nozzle holders, suction fill valve and boom extensions that can reach up to 10m for more productive spraying.
Third in the GreenStar range, the DM450 and DM700 sprayers are designed for use with John Deere ProGator, Toro Workman and Jacobsen Truckster vehicles. The sprayers are attached using the existing pin points and ram mount, making the sprayer easy and quick to mount and dismount.
As standard, in-cab electric boom section controls are provided for the 6m boom. The sprayer pump is hydraulically driven as standard and there is no need for power take-off drive kits.
Gambetti offers PRO and ECO ranges to tick all the regulation guidelines - image: HW
Significant development work was also displayed at BTME by Gambetti. The company offers PRO and ECO ranges to tick all the regulation guidelines now and in the future, as well as solving problems.
One such issue is that of cleaning lines and booms before coming back to base with the sprayer. That is fine if the operation has been completed but what if for any reason, perhaps a change in weather, the tank is half full? Gambetti has now developed a system so that the tank on the dedicated, tractor-mounted and demount sprayers can be separated, allowing the lines and boom to be cleaned while preventing dilution of the tank mix. An additional agitator remixes prior to the continuation of the application.
At Turf Maintenance Live 2017, an April event at the Worcestershire Golf Club near Malvern, Martin Lishman demonstrated its Micro-Spray pedestrian sprayer. Designed for all types of sports grounds, golf courses and landscape work, the Micro-Spray was first introduced in 2011 but has been developed to incorporate an ungraded specification to increase versatility.
The machine now has a 120-litre tank and 2.5m six-nozzle, three-section folding boom with break back and height adjustment. Independent shut-off nozzle bodies and reduced-drift air inclusion nozzles should suit the majority of spraying situations. An optional hand lance is available for spot treatments and a bout marker is also offered.
A narrow footprint means the Micro-Spray can squeeze through tight gateways and passages to tackle hard-to-reach spraying areas. The chassis is powder-coated and has a sealed battery compartment. A low centre of gravity for stability on rough terrain is matched to low ground pressure, smooth tyres and a single front steering wheel for manoeuvrability. The steering handle has been redesigned to provide a simple trigger throttle system and spray on/off buttons for fingertip control of the application.
An emergency-stop wrist lanyard is intended to improve safety in the event of the operator becoming separated from the sprayer. Brakes are automatically applied if the power is cut, lanyard disconnected or throttle switch released.
A comprehensive but easy-to-use control box gives control over application rates, operating speeds and pump pressure, direction, 12 motor speeds and bout marker selection while also indicating battery level. There is agitation when mixing chemicals, along with boom section control and independent shut-offs on the air inclusion nozzles. The two 12V batteries provide three-to-four hours of continuous use.
Toro MultiPro: advanced technology
Technological features clinched the deal when course manager Mark Heveran chose the Toro MultiPro 5800-D for use at Royal Cromer Golf Club. He says the on-board computer is "the best piece of Toro equipment" he has bought. It gives greater control over the application rate and, from the moment it is programmed, the same spray rate is maintained - even when speeding up or slowing down.
"Our sprayer also has the optional shrouded boom, a cover that surrounds the spraying nozzles to deflect and protect the flow of spray from the wind, which is a major design advantage for us," adds Heveran, with the course being located on a clifftop. "This gives us 75% more opportunities to spray, which is a tremendous improvement and makes our annual chemical and nutrient programme far more achievable."
Handhelds and backpacks: Pure and CP15
Suited to conservatory, display house and garden use, the new range of Pure garden sprayers from Hozelock includes a seven-litre option for gardeners who prefer to use natural products and homemade recipes for plant protection and fertilisers. Pure sprayers feature highly resistant seals and filters, which are unaffected by frequent use of acidic recipes.
Where larger volumes of agro-chemicals are required, the new Cooper Pegler CP15 Evolution comfort knapsack sprayer is now available. It shares many of the features of the tried and tested "Classic" sprayers, including the same diaphragm and the pressure-control system for smooth operation.
The redesigned safety harness features extra-wide shoulder and waist straps to ensure that the weight is carried ergonomically on the hips and across the shoulders.