The last time you drive the sprayer into the yard for the season, instead of parking it in the corner, park it
front and center and begin taking the first steps to winterize and maintain the sprayer for peak performance during the next growing season.
That’s the advice of Paul Haefner, a product specialist for AGCO’s application equipment division.
The first step, according to Haefner, is to inspect the sprayer thoroughly and document problems in writing. Even if you don’t have time to take on maintenance right away, it’s a good idea to complete the inspection before you forget the nagging issues that you reminded yourself to follow up on. Seasoned managers give themselves a leg up: They write down concerns in real time during the spray season so that festering repair and maintenance issues don’t slip their minds.
“If you don’t write things down, you forget about them until the hose ruptures,” Haefner says.
Once you have inspected the sprayer and documented maintenance and repair needs in writing, winterization can begin. Here are the steps:
1) Thoroughly wash the outside of the sprayer. “Use your power washer first, then hand wash like you do on your car,” advises Haefner. “You will see small items that you wouldn’t normally notice. With application equipment, scratched paint that’s not repaired can lead to rust in a hurry because of the products we apply. Touch it up.”
2) Give the cab an end-of-year cleaning. Vacuum thoroughly and remove and clean the floor liner. Wash the windows inside and out. Remove and clean or replace air conditioning filters if needed.
3) Service the application system. Liquid systems should be thoroughly flushed and cleaned, then winterized by flushing recreational vehicle (RV) antifreeze through pumps and booms. Even in climates where below-freezing temperatures are infrequent, this practice will safeguard valuable pumps and valves from damage due to freezing.
Haefner suggests using a 50:50 solution of RV antifreeze (propylene glycol) and water in the main product tank and rinse tank. “Run that solution through the tank and all the plumbing,” he says.
Before starting the flush procedure, place plugs in all nozzle bodies, with the exception of outside nozzle bodies on each section. In the open nozzle bodies, install a hose with a fitting, running the hose to a container for proper collection and reuse. After adding the antifreeze solution to the main tank, open the sparge valve completely for several minutes to fully mix the antifreeze solution.
Then begin flushing the system. Open and close the tank sump valve and reload valve several times before operating the liquid pump. Open the by-pass valve to flush the by-pass line. Open the clean water valve to draw antifreeze solution from the rinse tank and properly flush the clean water lines. Open the tank rinse valve to flush the tank rinse line.
If equipped with a chemical eductor, open the eductor valve to flush the line going to the eductor, as well as all other lines that are part of the system.
Flush the boom by turning boom spray controls on and off several times. Disengage the liquid pump. Open the reload valve and let the solution flow into a container until the tank is empty. Pivot down each end of the boom by hand to let the remaining liquid flow out. Leave all valves half open.
Finally, open the hand rinse valve on the safety water tank, remove product line and boom strainers, disconnect all hose quick-couplers and remove plugs from the product pump, the rinse tank and the bottom of the boom manifolds.
4) Complete all required maintenance and repairs.
5) For self-propelled sprayers, protect fuel from condensation. The same goes for Tier 4 diesel exhaust fluid tanks, where applicable. Fuel tanks should be topped off. Diesel exhaust fluid tanks can be topped off and vents closed, or emptied.
6) Wash and store nozzles, strainers and other removed parts. Store nozzles together to avoid mixing with new nozzles.
Consult your sprayer’s operating manual for winterizing recommendations specific to your sprayer model.