When it comes to spraying areas with chemicals and fertilizer, you have several different options. If you want to discover a more efficient way to do the job look no further than your utility vehicles or utility work machines.
“It's a lot less time-consuming using a utility vehicle compared to a hand-held sprayer on a backpack,” says Mike Amerman, attachment product representative, Bobcat Company. “You're going to be able to cover more ground faster with a utility vehicle sprayer attachment.”
Landscapers and groundskeepers get the best of both worlds with utility vehicle sprayer attachments because they can also come with a spray wand for quickly tackling small jobs that require spot spraying. For large area coverage, operators just need to attach the tank and boom and turn on the attachment. You can even make sure you obtain consistent coverage in critical areas by utilizing the utility work machine's exclusive cruise control feature.
There are several different applications in which you might use a utility vehicle sprayer attachment. The attachment is designed for chemical applications ranging from spot spraying for weed control to broadcast spraying of liquid fertilizer and chemicals. For example, you could use the sprayer attachment to treat areas of land for weeds and mosquitoes in the summer and to melt snow and ice along sidewalks in the winter.
Traditionally, landscapers and groundskeepers turned to hand-held sprayers to perform these types of tasks, overlooking the versatility that their utility vehicles could provide. But today, Amerman says an increasing number of people in these industries are realizing the efficiencies of utility vehicle sprayer attachments.
KEYS TO EFFECTIVE SPRAYING
So what makes utility vehicle sprayer attachments a more efficient option for some applications?
Well, first, lawn care professionals can choose a tank size to fit the size of the area they plan to treat. For example, Amerman says you could choose to equip your utility vehicle with either a 75-gallon tank or 50-gallon tank sprayer attachment. The 50-gallon sprayer attachment is appropriate for most utility vehicles, while the 75-gallon sprayer can only be used with utility work machines.
Not only is tank size important, but so is the type of sprayer heads on the attachment.
“There are a variety of different nozzles and heads that can be utilized on these sprayers,” Amerman says. “Depending on your sprayer head and your speed of travel, it's really going to determine what kind of coverage and rates you get.”
Inside each sprayer head is a strainer screen that regulates the amount of fluid coming out. Depending on the liquid pressure in the tank, an operator could achieve as much as 18 gallons per acre while traveling 4 mph, or as few as 4 gallons per acre while traveling 18 mph. “The general rule of thumb is the quicker you travel, the less coverage you'll achieve,” Amerman says. “Typically, on average, I would say between 6 and 8 mph would be the optimal speed for getting the best coverage.”
In addition to fewer tank fill-ups with the 75-gallon sprayer, the attachment also has a 30- to 40-psi maximum boom spraying pressure, whereas the 50-gallon sprayer attachment has a 30-psi maximum boom spraying pressure. Sprayer flow is controlled by a pump on/off switch conveniently mounted in the console, or within reach on the front of the sprayer frame for utility vehicles.
Sprayer attachments disperse the chemicals and fertilizer in a reversed triangle pattern, which means the spraying pattern is narrow closest to the sprayer head and widens as it shoots away. This pattern is designed so that with each pass you're getting 30 percent spray overlap, Amerman says.
Even though most operators are usually concerned that they won't achieve enough coverage, there is such a thing as overspraying or saturating an area. That's why Amerman says the cruise control feature on a utility work machine is extremely beneficial when you're using the sprayer attachment for an application where consistent coverage is critical. With cruise control, you can just push a button inside the cab to ensure the machine stays at a constant speed. This feature reduces operator fatigue when spraying large areas, because the operator no longer has to focus on holding the foot pedal at the exact position to maintain a consistent speed.
For smaller, more precise jobs, look for a sprayer attachment that comes with an adjustable pattern wand. “You can drive up to right where you need to spray, hook up the wand, and then cover what needs to be sprayed,” Amerman says.
The last thing landscapers want to worry about while spraying is possibly disturbing the ground. Though utility vehicles exert minimal ground disturbance, one with all-wheel steering is even better for sensitive jobs, Amerman says. Couple the machine's standard all-wheel steering feature with turf tires, and he says you'll have a perfect solution to avoiding ground disturbance.
HOW IT WORKS
Unlike hand-held sprayers that operators typically hold while they walk and spray areas with a wand, sprayer attachments for utility vehicles are mounted in the rear and electrically powered by the machines. Amerman says a majority of the sprayer attachments on the market are powered by a 12-volt system.
All sprayer tank components are mounted to a formed steel skid-frame, which is fastened to the bed of utility vehicles by drilling holes in the tailgate and securing it with bolts. This construction enables operators to easily remove the tank and sprayer from the bed of the machines within minutes.
Another major component of sprayer attachments is their spring-loaded booms, Amerman says. Look for sprayers with more than one section of booms and that offer boom flexibility. Amerman says the nice thing about the three-section booms is that you can avoid obstructions such as trees, fences and poles by folding in either side of the boom. A control switch on the tank will then shut off water to the section of the boom that is folded in.
The advantage of the spring-loaded feature is that it's a safety net if you happen to hit an object. “It's going to flex a little bit so that if you hit an object, it won't break,” Amerman says. “Then once you get past the object, it's going to spring back into place.” The same goes when traveling over rough terrain. If the operator happens to hit a low spot in terrain, the boom will not hit the ground rigid. Instead, it will flex so that none of the boom sections break.
“A lot of times when this attachment is being used, the utility vehicle … is going over hills and valleys where that could happen,” he says. “Plus you have trees and poles that you might need to maneuver around, so this is a great feature to have.”
And when you're done using the sprayer attachment, the boom wings can be folded in so you don't have to worry about them hitting an object while transporting the utility vehicle or utility work machine to the next site.
Tara Deering is a technical writer for Two Rivers Marketing (Des Moines, Iowa).
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