If you need a sprayer for your property, and you own an all-terrain vehicle, buying an ATV sprayer might seem like a no-brainer. However, is an ATV sprayer really the best option for your application?
In this post, we will go over the common questions people have about ATV sprayers to provide a comprehensive guide to choosing an ATV sprayer and using it effectively.
What Can You Use an ATV Sprayer For?
ATV sprayers are very versatile. We can be used in a wide range of applications but what it really boils down to is how effective will it be in your specific situation. An ATV sprayer shares similar attributes to most other types of sprayers with the main difference being that it is sized to mount on an ATV rather than a tractor, truck, or mower. An ATV can access areas that other larger vehicles and equipment cannot. It can also handle rougher terrain than a lawn tractor or other self-propelled mower. The downside is ATVs are not designed for row crops like a tractor sprayer and their tires can damage your lawn.
Common ATV Sprayer Uses:
- Food plots
- Construction sites
- Wet Fields
What Size ATV Sprayer Do I Need?
The size of the sprayer that will work best for you depends on several factors. The amount of area you need to cover, your application rate (more on this in a moment), the size of your ATV, and your budget.
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about sprayer size is the tank, however, this is not the only aspect of “sprayer size“. The size of the sprayer boom and the size of the pump is also important to consider. “Pump size” refers to the amount of flow it can produce, and the spray boom size refers to the swath width of the boom or how wide the coverage area is produced by the boom.
You need to identify what sprayer size will be large enough to meet the demands of your application but also make sure that your ATV can handle the weight of a sprayer that size. So how do you go about this? First, we must determine your application rate.
Application rate is the amount of liquid applied over a given area, This is usually measured in gallons per acre. If you are new to spraying you can find a full breakdown of application rates in this article about spray volume per acre.
So how do you know how many gallons per acre you need to spray? The label of your pesticide or herbicide will provide information about how much to apply in different scenarios. There are several factors that can affect your gallon per acre rate there is necessarily one right answer. An agronomist or horticulturist can provide guidance but sometimes the easiest place to find answers is from other individuals who are experienced in applying pesticides and herbicides in a scenario similar to yours.
Do note that your desired application rate is something that is based upon several factors including what weeds/pests you want to kill, where they are, how large, what time of year, etc. The ratio of chemical to water is the “mix ratio” and the “application rate” is how much total volume of your mixed solution you will spray per acre. You can read a detailed guide on how to set your sprayer to apply the correct amount in this post about calibrating your sprayer output. It covers in detail how to determine the speed, pressure, and nozzles you need to achieve your application rate.
If you are new to calculating sprayer application rates, this article about sprayer formulas has a bunch of useful calculators to help you out!
ATV Sprayer Tank Size
When you know how many actual ounces or gallons of liquid you need to spray per acre, you can then get an idea of how big of a tank you want. If you spray 5 gallons per acre, a 25-gallon tank would let you cover five acres without needing to refill and mix a new batch. This is up to your preference, but you don’t want to have to constantly refill.
On the other hand, a larger tank will help you cover more ground but may be too heavy for an ATV when full. 25-gallon tanks are about the max that is manageable on most ATVs. A full 25-gallon sprayer is going to weigh over 200 pounds. Add the weight of the driver and it can make a smaller ATV hard to maneuver.
ATV Sprayer Boom Size
Your boom size is another important factor to consider. The wide swath from a conventional boom means you can cover ground fast and still provide very even coverage, but it will be harder to maneuver around obstacles. “Boomless” ATV sprayers utilize special nozzles that have a wide spray pattern. Two of these nozzles spaced only about six inches apart can cover the same width (or more) as an ATV sprayer with a conventional boom.
This is great because they are simple and lower cost, but they don’t provide the same even coverage as a conventional sprayer boom. You can find a more detailed comparison of these two boom types in this article that compares boom and boomless sprayers.
Can an ATV be Used to Apply Pesticides?
ATV sprayers Can be used to apply pesticides, this includes herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. They can also apply fertilizers, deicing liquids, and dust control products.
While a typical ATV sprayer should have no issue with any of these chemicals, it should be noted that there are different pumps and nozzles that might be more suited for use with a specific liquid. These pumps are built from materials that are well-suited to handle agrochemicals, fertilizers, and many other types of liquids. If you have a petroleum-based product to spray, a pump with Viton or Buna internal components would be needed.
ATV Sprayer Pump Types
A 12-volt diaphragm pump is the most common type of pump used on ATV sprayers. The largest 12-volt sprayer pumps produce about 5 gallons per minute and 60 psi. This is plenty large enough to spray at a rate of 10 gallons per acre at around five miles per hour. If you are curious about how application rates are determined be sure to check out this article on spray volume per acre. It covers in detail all the factors that affect the output of your sprayer.
ATV Sprayer Nozzle Types
Spray nozzles are probably one of the most overlooked parts of any sprayer. The spray nozzle serves a very important role in controlling both the amount of liquid, the spray pattern, and the droplet size in which it is applied. These factors affect how well your pesticide performs.
A conventional spray boom on an ATV will typically use between 3 to 7 nozzles, spaced 15 to 20 inches apart. Any more nozzles and the boom gets a bit too wide and any less that you are not covering much ground.
A conventional boom is great for applications that require very even and precise coverage. If you use a herbicide that works best when it covers the entire surface of the weed you want to kill, a conventional spray boom is likely the better choice.
The other common choice for ATV sprayers is to use a “boomless” nozzle. Boomless ATV sprayers have become popular because they are easier to maneuver than a traditional boom. They are smaller and generally less expensive. If you want to spray rough terrain, or fields and pastures with lots of obstacles, a boomless ATV sprayer is uniquely suited for the task.
One drawback to boomless ATV sprayers is that they don’t provide the same coverage as a traditional boom sprayer. If you want to see the specific differences, read this article comparing the difference between conventional boom and boomless sprayers.
How Many Acres Can an ATV Sprayer Cover?
An ATV sprayer can cover about 1-5 acres of land with a single tankful. This varies depending on the capacity of the tank and the application rate. Your sprayer capacity divided by the gallons you spray per acre will tell you how many acres you can cover with one tank.
Example: A sprayer with a 15-gallon tank can cover 3 acres if you are spraying at a rate of 5 gallons per acre.
How Much Spray Volume Can an ATV Sprayer Produce?
The volume of a sprayer can be measured in a couple of ways. Gallons per minute and gallons per acre. The maximum gallons per minute that a sprayer can produce will be limited by the maximum flow of the pump and the size or flow capacity of the spray nozzles. Gallons per acre rate is determined by the speed you spray, nozzle size (capacity in gallons per minute), pressure, and nozzle spacing.
Not all ATV sprayers will be the same, but the larger ATV sprayers can produce a flow of about 4-5 GPM. A common ATV sprayer like the Fimco boomless sprayer shown in the videos above will produce about 10-15 gallons per acre if you use the nozzle that comes with the sprayer. You can swap out the standard nozzles for larger ones that can achieve a rate of 30 gallons per acre at 3-4 mph.
ATV Sprayer Formulas for Gallons Per Acre
There are two formulas you can use to calculate gallons per acre on an ATV sprayer. The one you use depends on your boom type. We will use one formula for a conventional spray boom and another for a boomless sprayer.
Conventional Boom: GPA = (5940 x Nozzle GPM) / (mph x width of nozzles)
Example: Sprayer with 02 (yellow) flat fan spray tips. The desired travel speed is 4 mph. The nozzles on the boom are spaced 20 inches apart. (5940 x 0.20) / (4 x 20) = 14.85 gallons per acre.
Boomless Sprayer: GPA = (495 x Nozzle GPM) / (mph x spray width in ft)
Example: Boomless sprayer with a pair of yellow nozzles with a flow rate of 2.4 GPM at 40 psi. Each nozzle covers a swath of 18 ft. The desired travel speed is 4 mph. (495 x 2.4) / (4 x 18) = 16.5 gallons per acre.
Note that for a boomless sprayer, you use the width of coverage from each nozzle in feet. For a boom sprayer with flat fan nozzles, you would input the width between each nozzle in inches. 5940 and 495 are factors that remain constant in the formula. You can see an image of how these boom types are different in this post: Boom vs Boomless Sprayers.
How Fast Can You Drive with an ATV Sprayer?
With a typical ATV sprayer, you can spray at a speed of 4-5 mph. The speed will depend on several factors, including the capacity of the sprayer, the size of your ATV, the width of the spray boom, and the terrain you are spraying on.
Can I Use an ATV Sprayer on a UTV?
While ATV sprayers are specifically designed to be used with ATVs, many models can also be used with utility terrain vehicles (UTVs).
Most UTVs have adequate space for an ATV sprayer and will be able to easily handle the weight. The main hurdle will be in mounting the boom. Some versions of ATV sprayer booms may easily connect to UTV and others may require some adjusting or fabrication on your part.
How Do You Power an ATV Sprayer?
Most ATV sprayer pumps have 12-volt motors. They are typically powered by the battery of the ATV. The sprayer unit will come with a wiring harness that connects to the ATV battery, providing power to the sprayer pump motor.
Sometimes an ATV sprayer will not come with cables. If you don’t want to scrape something together yourself, I have found this wire harness works well and costs less than if I tried to create the same thing.
You can use a dedicated 12-volt battery to power your pump if you cannot or do not want to use your ATV’s battery. The downside to this is, with no alternator, the battery will run down as you spray and eventually need to be recharged.
ATV Sprayer Diagram
Before You Go
An ATV sprayer is an effective and relatively low-cost way to control weeds over a large area. Despite their simplicity, it is important to find a sprayer that is the right size for your ATV and application. Also, before you spray you should understand how nozzle size, spacing, speed, and pressure all go together to determine your application rate.
If you are new to spraying with an ATV sprayer, be sure to read this article that shows you in detail how to calibrate your sprayer so you can be sure that you apply the correct amount of chemical on your property.