30 June 2000

Turpin wows judges to take top spraying spot

Winner of the Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year 2000 is Ben Turpin from Sudbury, Suffolk.

Impressing the judges with his understanding of spraying principles and machine operation

earned him maximum points and the winners trip to Holland. Andy Moore reports

ELITE amongst eight finalists, Ben Turpin is the winner of the 2000 Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year competition.

Spraying 745ha (1840 acres) of cereal and root crops on John Brand and Sons Brook Hall Farm, Foxearth, Sudbury, Suffolk, his professional spraying practices took top spot in the national competition.

"His all-round knowledge of modern spraying principles put him head and shoulders above the seven other finalists," says Tom Robinson, Novartis applications expert and competition judge. "He obviously does his homework and keeps up to speed with the latest developments in spraying."

An Airtec sprayer operator for the past nine years, Mr Turpins pride and joy is a three-year-old, 24m, self-propelled Atlas 2500 unit, supplied by Cleanacres.

The machine was chosen to replace a 24m de-mount sprayer with MB-Trac, mainly for its extra stability, higher workrates and increased spraying efficiency.

Calibrated monthly, the sprayer is used to spray at standard 75 or 65 litre/ha low volumes to increase workrates. Occasionally, a rate of 100 litres/ha is used for achieving optimum chemical coverage under dense sugar beet canopies.

Higher work rates and spraying flexibility are also achieved using size 40 instead of 35 restrictor plates. "The restrictor plates enable the Airtec nozzles to spray to 1% accuracy and the low spray volumes allow workrates of 141ha or 350 acres a day," claims Mr Turpin.

"The Airtec nozzles are replaced as a matter of course every year to maintain optimum coverage and accuracy, or when they exceed 5% variation in outputs."

Satisfied with the sprayers performance and specification, Mr Turpin has made few modifications to the sprayer. The in-cab "Magic Box" controller was replaced after problems with the sprayers original meter, while covers were fitted over pressure sensors to prevent interference from radio waves from the cab CB.

Other improvements included fitting extra insulation to pipework, with a wooden block used to help support folded booms during transport. Spares for the machine are contained in two lockers and include a selection of whole-nozzle bodies, ties and connectors, together with extra diaphragms and rubbers.

For carrying chemical from store to sprayer, Mr Turpin uses a cart designed to contain spillages. Chemical containers are then loaded onto a purpose built trolley that comprises a mesh mounted above a sump of soak-up granules.

Using personal protective equipment, the containers are then emptied one at a time into an induction hopper, with a tray underneath to contain spillages. Empties are then taken in the cart to the storage shed before being incinerated.

When filling the sprayer with water, Mr Turpin relies on a tank at the farm which fills the sprayers 2500-litre tank through a 5cm (2in) pipe, using a Pony Flow valve.

For sprayer tank washing, Mr Turpin rinses out the sprayer on a licensed designated area with a diluted mix of All Clear, before three rinses with clean water.

Tank washing after high risk chemicals such as sulphonyl urea involves rinsing the tank and pipework six times with clean water, plus repeat doses with All Clear. Disposal of excess spray mix involves diluting chemical to within maximum dose rates and spraying over untreated fields.

To adhere to LERAP regulations, the farm maintains standard 5m buffer zones on fields bordering watercourses – each displayed on a coloured map of the farm.

For record keeping Mr Turpin uses a board in the chemical store to monitor stock levels, and a book in the farm office to keep track of all other information.

Records are filled out at the end of each days spraying by Mr Turpin, while a separate sheet for LERAP assessment is completed by the farms agronomist. Eventually, all records are downloaded onto computer. &#42

The self-propelled Atlas Airtec with 24m boom applies low spray volumes of 65lt/ha,

75lt/ha and occasionally 100lt/ha.

Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year, Ben Turpin, won the competition after earning valuable points with his knowledge of sprayer operation and chemical handling procedures.

TURPINS TECHNIQUES

&#8226 24m, 2500-litre Atlas Airtec self-propelled sprayer.

&#8226 Size 40 restrictors.

&#8226 Low 65 and 75 litre/ha spray volumes.

&#8226 Airtec nozzles replaced every year.

&#8226 Chemical spillage containers to avoid point source contamination.