How to prevent application overlap and ensure accurate spreader-sprayer applications

September 22, 2023 -  By

Limiting overlap with spreader-sprayer applications saves on materials and minimizes environmental impacts and damage to turf. Here are practices and equipment that can help lawn care operators (LCOs) improve their accuracy with these machines.

Line it up

Equipment with easy-to-use functions and settings can improve spreader-sprayer applications. (Photo: PermaGreen)

Equipment with easy-to-use functions and settings can improve spreader-sprayer applications. (Photo: PermaGreen)

Choosing operator-friendly spreader-sprayers will help improve application efficiency, says George Kinkead, president of Turfco.

“Select equipment that’s simple and easy to learn so that when employee turnover happens, you can adapt,” he says. “Training and knowing each operator is doing the job (correctly) are critical to ensure accuracy and efficiency. If an operator is confused about how to use the machine, they aren’t going to be accurate.”

With a steering wheel, pivoting front axle and boomless design, Kinkead says a model like Turfco’s T5000 allows operators to manage uneven terrain and match up on each pass.

“If you don’t know what line you’re on, you’re going to waste material,” Kinkead says. “Each time you get to the end of the pass, go to wheel lock, and that’s exactly where you want to be for the next 9-foot pass.”

He says the hard trim and application-rate controls on the T3100 help prevent off-target prills and maintain a matched application rate for accuracy.

“If the trim system isn’t accurate, the prills can go into flower beds, sidewalks, streets and other places you don’t want material,” Kinkead says.

Mark passes

LCOs must provide accurate applications across all of their properties, says Kodi Quinlisk, sales representative for Steel Green Manufacturing.

“A product is only as good as where it’s placed, how it’s placed there and the amount that’s placed there,” Quinlisk says. “Ensuring your spreader pattern is properly adjusted will help eliminate striping and discolored lawns.”

Steel Green’s machines use a boom sprayer that allows LCOs to make precise applications around edges while reducing the amount of drift. The boom also allows LCOs to use a foam marker, which can help them maintain the proper overlap.

“When the only way to tell where you’ve been is your tire tracks, it can be very difficult or often impossible when a lawn had recently been mowed or the sun is shining in the wrong direction,” he says.

Quinlisk says Steel Green’s Accu-Way pattern diffuser controls where the granules fall on the impeller to help prevent striping — and throwing granules back to the center of the tire tracks is key to providing an even granular application.

Avoid changes

The keys to an accurate application are constant speed, width, output and overlap, says Dan Shiplov, director of sales, PermaGreen. He says PermaGreen’s Triumph ride-on spreader maintains speeds of either 3.5 or 5 mph.

“Simply monitoring the tachometer assures accuracy of the entire system,” Shiplov says. “Spray width and spread width are factory set and outputs are synchronized to those two speeds. No adjustable pressure regulator to fiddle with.”

He says his company’s Triumph is factory-set to make 7-foot parallel passes by dropping the end of the fertilizer pattern between the last pass and wheel marks.

“To trim and edge, drop the deflector and reduce the spreader output to match the narrower width,” Shiplov says.

He says LCOs should set operating standards including speed, spray pressure, spreader settings, using the deflector, trimming and edging. He encourages them to inspect their machines each morning to verify the correct settings.

“If possible, limit the adjustments that operators can make in the field,” Shiplov says. “Recheck the settings and correct any variations found. Monitor their product usage and compare them to square feet produced.”

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