Improper use of a backpack sprayer can lead to environmental contamination, harmed crops, and hundreds of dollars of wasted money. Although backpack sprayers may seem simple in use, they have many peculiarities that first-time users may be unaware of.
Below, we’ll give you some usage tips and try to cover as many of those peculiarities as possible to give you an idea of what you are truly dealing with. And after you are done reading our tips, we encourage that you do some more in-depth research on gear selection, usage, and maintenance.
11 Tips For Pesticide Spraying
1. Carefully review the sprayer’s operating manual
Each backpack sprayer is unique, and even if you’ve had experience with backpack sprayers become, it doesn’t mean that it will work with a new sprayer. Make sure to carefully review your backpack sprayer’s operating manual to find out whether there are any risks or safety tips that apply to your specific sprayer model.
2. Carefully read the pesticide label
Pesticide labels likewise can have a lot of important information on them.
The first thing to check is whether the pesticide does what you want. Most importantly, is the pesticide designed for your crops and does it deal with the pests that have swarmed your property?
Then, make sure to find out whether there are any safety precautions to keep in mind with your pesticide. You should generally use protective equipment with any pesticide, but some pesticides may be more hazardous than others.
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3. Pick the right spray nozzle for the job
Newbies may pay very little attention to the selection of the right spray tip for the job.
The purpose of the spray tip is to break the liquid down into properly sized droplets and form the spray pattern. It may seem that these don’t matter, but they can actually significantly affect the efficacy of the spraying.
The spray nozzle determines the amount of the solution applied to the area, the coverage of the solution on plant surfaces, the likelihood of the drops drifting away and missing the target, and the uniformity of application.
There are plenty of things to know about spray nozzles, so we encourage that you research them in-depth.
5. Properly calibrate your backpack sprayer
Calibration is necessary to ensure proper coverage of the pesticide. Improper calibration can damage nearby crops, waste pesticide, or prevent the solution from reaching the target.
Among the key variables that affect the pesticide coverage are your walking speed, the selected nozzle, and the selected pressure.
It’s difficult to say how you should calibrate your backpack sprayer since it will depend on your situation. You can do additional research to find out how calibration should be done, but you will also need to gain some experience and develop an intuition on how changing the listed variables affects the spraying efficacy.
6. Wear protective equipment
When operating a backpack sprayer, you are pretty much in direct contact with the pesticide. Refilling or walking over sprayed surfaces poses risks to your health, though some pesticides will be more hazardous than others.
Among the must-have protective items to wear are rubber boots, rubber gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and eye protection. Some pesticides may require you to wear a face shield or a respirator, which is part of the reason why it’s important to carefully read the label.
7. Stir the pesticide occasionally while working
Some pesticide products tend to separate, while others tend to settle at the bottom of the tank. Needless to say, if the solution isn’t distributed uniformly in the tank, the spraying will be nearly useless.
To make sure that the pesticide is uniform inside the tank, you may agitate the tank with an abrupt sidestep. With that said, keep in mind that your pesticide may have some specific requirements when it comes to handling, so be sure to check them out.
8. Thoroughly clean your backpack sprayer after each use
You should thoroughly clean and rinse your backpack sprayer after each use. You may clean the sprayer with a household ammonia solution (6 ounces per tank) or a commercial tank cleaning solution.
The first reason for cleaning is to ensure that your backpack sprayer serves you longer. A properly maintained backpack sprayer will require less maintenance and will be easier to maintain when it does.
The second reason for cleaning is to keep your plants safe. If you will be switching between different solutions for plant protection, then you should remove the old solution from the tank before adding the next one. This will make sure that your plants don’t suffer from a pesticide that isn’t designed for them.
9. Keep records of your spraying sessions
Keeping records is a simple procedure that many users may have never thought about doing. Yet, it’s a great tip that could help you improve your spraying.
After each session, record details such as the spray tips used, the solution, the selected pressure, weather, stage of plant growth, or whatnot. Recording variables such as these will allow you to track changes in your crops over time and assess whether your spraying strategy is working.
10. Ensure proper storage of your backpack sprayer
Your backpack sprayer will probably come with instructions for storage, but generally, sprayers should be kept away from the sun to avoid damage from UV.
Another thing that you may need to do is winterize the sprayer before storage in cold seasons. You may use automotive or RV antifreeze for winterization, but be sure to check your sprayer’s instructions.
You won’t need to winterize your sprayer if you are living in a warmer climate.
11. Use your backpack sprayer for small-scale spraying
One final important thing to remember with backpack sprayers is that they are not the best tool for coverage of large areas. An area that may take you a few hours to cover will be sprayed from a helicopter in mere seconds.
And needless to say, backpack spraying isn’t the most fun thing to do, so if you can, use larger spraying equipment like tractors. Reserve backpack spraying for small areas, spot spraying, or hard to reach locations.