WHETHER filling a sprayer in the yard or on a field headland, care is needed. Even small amounts of spilt agrochemical can cause environmental pollution, especially in water.
Problems can arise from spillage of concentrate, dropping caps or foil seals, leaking valves, booms, nozzles or pipe-work, poorly sealed tank lids, foaming contents and overfilling.
Past Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year finalists have shown a number of ways in which the problems can be overcome.
Michael Goody of Babraham near Cambridge sprays a lot of vegetables in limited good weather windows, so he needs a fast turn around. To stop the tank overfilling he has fitted an alarm that sounds when the tank is filled to the required level.
To monitor the amount of water going into the tank Ben Turpin from Essex uses a Pony meter. This ensures the amount needed for the area to be sprayed is accurately filled, often difficult to achieve with standard sprayer gauges.
He also follows a method used by fellow finalist Ben Gilg, now working in Hereford, placing a catch container under the induction hopper so any splashes of concentrate are caught and can be safely rinsed into the bowl.
To contain accidental spillage, sand or absorbent material is kept close by when filling in the field or yard, together with containers to hold the contaminated material ready for later disposal.
Knowing the drainage route from a concreted filling area is also important, a site to be avoided if there is any risk of water contamination. To overcome that risk John Spicer in Dorset uses a tank buried under the yard, with twin diverter inlets.
The inlet to the rainwater drainage is opened when the sprayer is not being filled. During filling the rainwater inlet is closed and water diverted to the sub-surface tank, so any minor spillage can be rinsed into the contaminated water tank for later safe disposal.