Farmers in Western Canada are spending more and more time in their sprayers every year, trying to stay ahead of advancing crops and periods of poor spray conditions. We often find ourselves climbing the ladder of the sprayer earlier in the morning and later in the evening, which inevitably leads to less sleep and poor visibility.
Don’t let those compromises put you in a risky situation. Here are the top four suggestions to help sprayer operators be more efficient and in turn, safer, for the 2017 growing season.
1. Read pesticide labels ahead of time
Pesticide labels are more than legal jargon and warnings. They also offer important safety tips for application and useful information about product use. Read labels before spring seeding, so you aren’t rushed into making product decisions. You may have to refer to your soil tests to ensure proper use of certain products, but the label on your herbicide will confirm the most suitable application.
2. Modify your water trailer to match your needs
Farmers are on and off their water trailers countless times throughout the season. Before spraying season gets hectic, take the time to modify your water trailer to your liking. Little things like putting grip tape on slippery areas, ladders and railings or adding hose storage or direct plumbing into your chemical handler can help prevent falls, chemical spills and wasted time.
3. Plan, plan, plan
Often, the factor that separates a smooth spray seasons from a stressful one is simply this: planning. Why? Consider your favourite sport. Can you think of a time when an athlete had top tier success, despite not having the best physical skill? Their planning and preparation gave them an edge over other competitors with more natural ability. It can be the same with farming.
When Cargill agronomists put together a crop plan with customers or for their own farms, they always consider crop rotations, chemical rotations and disease cycles, but they also consider sprayer flush outs. Cleaning out our sprayers is a step that we cannot avoid, but we can do it more efficiently.
Planning for the spraying season means preparing a spray plan that minimizes cleanout time before the air seeder even pulls into the field. For example, spray your barley with Axial iPak™, then spray your CWRS with Velocity® – not the other way around.
A farmer facing a time crunch might also consider pre-seed herbicides that offer residual control. For example, the critical weed free period in soybeans is 1st to 3rd trifoliate (Source: OMAFRA), so spraying a pre-seed product like Heat® LQ, Valtera™, Authority® or BlackHawk® can buy you valuable time and help a less competitive crop reach its full potential.
These efficiencies are tough to achieve on-the-fly in the spring – they need to be planned ahead of time.
4. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
PPE is an important precaution to stay safe in the field. As with any chemical, follow safe-handling procedures to protect the operator and the equipment being used. It is important to have PPE that is easy to wear. Otherwise, operators may not use it during the busy growing season. Gloves, long sleeve shirts and protective eyewear can prevent skin contact while mixing or transporting chemical.
We hope these safety techniques have given you some ideas on how to increase operational efficiency and safety on your farm simultaneously. A common goal for farmers today is to be profitable, but above all else, we want you to make it home safe to your families at the end of every day.
Further information on pesticide safety can be found through the Pest Management Regulatory Agency or by contacting your local Cargill Agronomist.
Always read and follow chemical label directions before use. Axial iPak™ is a trademark of Syngenta. Velocity®, Valtera™, and BlackHawk® are trademarks of Nufarm Ltd. Heat® LQ is a registered trademark of BASF SE. Authority® is a registered trademark of FMC of Canada.