Practical tips are often very useful and can help make your life much easier. Here, Doug Price shares a number of personal tips he has picked up during his working career as a trainer and instructor in the horticulture and sports turf sectors.
Doug has worked with the Pitchcare training team since its inception in 2007 and is one of our most enthusiastic and experienced Instructors and Assessors. He also makes a valuable contribution to the development of our training courses, most recently designing and delivering our Stem Injection course for the control of invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed.
Doug's background is as an agricultural/horticultural and crop sprayer engineer, a path he followed for over 20 years. In 1996, Doug became Depot Manager for an agrochemical company and it was during this period that he commenced his training to become a City & Guilds registered Instructor. In 2000, he achieved his D32 qualification as an Assessor.
Tip One:- Protecting sprayer nozzles used on knapsack hand lances
The very nature of carrying a knapsack sprayer on your back, or during the lifting and taking off, often leaves the spraying lance in a prone position, sometimes resulting in the nozzle being knocked against a hard surface, especially during transit when the hand lance is left to roll around in the back of a vehicle.
Doug's tip is quite simple: get an old tennis ball and cut a small hole in it, then place it over the nozzle (see image) - a cheap and very effective protective device which will prolong the life of your nozzles.
Tip Two:- Repairing damaged nozzles
Again, some nozzles can be damaged during use; the performance of any nozzle can be severely damaged by small abrasions which will affect the quality of the spray pattern. Smoothing the nozzle with a small nail file will often rectify the damage This is a short term solution however, and the nozzle should be changed as soon as possible. Always make sure you recalibrate the sprayer to ensure you are still applying at the correct rate after you have made any changes to the sprayer set up.
Tip Three:- Safe storage of knapsack sprayers during the winter
Even if all the water has been drained out, there will be parts of the sprayer that still hold moisture and be prone to frost damage. To help prevent knapsack sprayers from freezing up, Doug's tip is to fill it up with some anti-freeze. Prime the pump and spray. Leave the anti-freeze in the knapsack sprayer until you are ready to use again in the spring. This practice will ensure there is no frost damage to the sprayer and its pump during cold spells.
Tip four:- Heavy lifting
Fill your knapsack on an elevated level surface, and it should now ideally be done with the knapsack in a drip tray, to avoid any spills contaminating other surfaces. When fitting the knapsack, use a low wall or the tail gate of the vehicle, to minimise bending and lifting with a heavy weight on your back. If you are only spraying a small area, consider half filling the knapsack or just measuring enough for the area you need to spray.
Tip five:- CDA
When using CDA sprayers, remember to reverse out the herbicide at the end of the day and run through with a CDA cleaner to ensure the machine does not clog or block.
Tip six:- Breather valves
When you replace the lid on the knapsack, make sure the breather valve is at the furthest point from you when the knapsack is on your back. That way, if you do bend over or lean forwards, there is less chance of it leaking down your back.
Tip seven:- Lance length
Most sprayers have an adjustable lance; adjust the height accordingly when spot treating or blanket spraying to avoid over stretching or stooping whilst wearing a heavy knapsack.
Tip eight:- PPE
Always read the label, different application methods will call for different levels of PPE. As a general rule of thumb, when wearing spray suits, wear them over your wellingtons rather than tucked in. However, if you are working in very overgrown areas, such as brambles, you may want to tuck them in to prevent them getting snagged. If you do this, make sure that they are new coveralls and not ones which have been, used as they may contaminate the inside of your wellingtons.
Tip nine:- Markers
When spraying large areas, use a cane to mark the end of each run (allowing for the required spray pattern) to ensure even coverage across the area. Spray at the required height above the target to attain the desired spray pattern.
Carry a cane, fixed to the knapsack with an elastic band, to mark any point where you stopped spraying to refill.
Tip ten:- Record spraying activities
Record relevant spraying information. Note time and date of operations, weather information and products used along with the MAPP number. Ideally, designate separate knapsack sprayers for herbicide and fungicide applications.
From January 2015 NPTC have revised the Assessments for Safe Use of Pesticides training. Separate assessments are now required for PA1, PA6A, PA6W and PA6INJ.
Information about these courses and other relevant training courses can be seen on the Groundsman Training Website.