Is it worth investing in a sprayer for my pastures?
Investing in a mounted sprayer requires careful consideration. Unlike a lot of other farm equipment, mounted boom sprayers just weren’t the kind of thing that farmers of days gone by could even affordably acquire to maintain their pastures and hay fields, but spraying pastures and hay fields has become far more common nowadays, due to:
- the influence of cropping operations
- livestock farmers have become more knowledgeable about and skilled with chemicals
- more attention paid to application costs
- better equipment selection
- sustainability of the operation
In the past – and even today in many places – farmers would rely on contractors to do all their spraying primarily because of the added costs of owning and maintaining a sprayer, but also to help alleviate a few small tasks from an already overworked farmer’s workload. But as consumers yearn more and more each year for products deriving from sustainable and regenerative operations, so too has the incentive to increase the production and quality of permanent and temporary pastures. Add to that advances in farm chemicals, especially herbicides, and in affordable mounted boom sprayers, and you get a sharp increase in both interest and availability in sprayers both pre- and post-sowing and under-sowing applications. Liquid fertilisers have also become more and more popular in recent years, and more and more sprayers can accommodate. An induction hopper is also a great way to deal with chemicals!
If you’re thinking about getting a mounted boom sprayer for your farm, consider the following points:
Versatility in the application
Having your own sprayer offers more diversity in the chosen application. For instance, choosing to add a hose reel to your mounted boom sprayer can help you to control weeds on your farm anytime outside your regular spraying programme as you can do spot spraying applications when you choose to. It also gives you the freedom of spraying whenever, wherever and as much or as little as you’d like – without having to balance your schedule with anybody else.
Timing is essential
Farmers acknowledge that there is a premium to be paid for getting the spraying done when it’s needed. When it’s not done on time, there can be a definite impact, it is particularly true in the case of herbicide application. The application window for spraying can be tight due to grass and weed development, moisture and general weather conditions. So having the freedom to spray whenever you want means you can manage that window with less anxiety and more confidence.
The price of chemicals
Chemicals are another variable to consider. Farmers owning their own sprayer can save between 10-15% savings by shopping around their own chemical products or buying directly from chemical suppliers.
When it comes to owning a sprayer, you can easily calculate the ownership cost per hectares/acres. Of course, your analysis should be based on treated hectares/acres, not on the number of hectares/acres farmed as some areas are likely to require more spraying than others. Don’t forget to add to your analysis the costs of repairs, fuel, lubrication, wear & tear, nozzles replacements and the labour cost if you are employing farmworkers.
Get prepared to do it right
If you are able to do a good job of spraying, handling the job yourself can provide more flexibility in an operation for all the reasons stated above, but if you are not prepared to do it right, hiring a professional applicator is the best option. You should also know however that recent technological advances have made this all even easier! The benefits and ease-of-use of a GPS swath guidance system are obvious, but the cost can be steep. More affordable guidance systems – like a foam guidance system can be extremely helpful though, without breaking the bank, but in any case, there are now a variety of extremely user-friendly guidance options to help any farmer satisfy their own spraying needs.
These days to be successful, farmers should definitely seek wisdom in age-old proven practices, but also keep up-to-date with modern advances and current market needs. The recent trend of individual ownership of mounted boom sprayers is one that deserves consideration. The time might not be right for any individual farm, but unless the calculations are made and weighed, no farmer will know whether the pros outweigh the cons, or vice versa.