Selecting a sprayer nozzle that will ensure that your pesticide or herbicide will work effectively, is one of the most crucial decisions you must make when spraying.
If you are planning to use multiple chemical products to target different pests, you are probably wondering about your sprayer nozzles. Specifically, should I use a different sprayer tip/nozzle for each different pesticide?
When you spray pesticides, you need to use a nozzle that will produce the droplet size and spray pattern called for on the pesticide label. There are many instances where you can use the same sprayer nozzle for multiple products, but there are also scenarios that will require you to use a different nozzle when you switch chemicals.
The nozzle you need for each type of pesticide will be determined by your application rate, the mode of action of the pesticide, the target pest, the weather conditions, and many other factors. Let’s jump into the nitty gritty details and find out when you need to switch nozzles and when you can stick with what you have.
Different Types of Nozzles
There are several different nozzle variations available. Many of these do not seem very different, but they do in fact result in a different level of coverage on your desired target.
The primary differences between spray nozzles are the pattern they produce, the size of the droplets they produce, and the capacity (size) of the nozzle. There are several different nozzles available. I have already written a full guide on the different nozzle types, but we will briefly cover the different types here.
The primary type of nozzle that is used on a boom sprayer produces a tapered flat fan, but cone nozzle or flood nozzles are also used. For spot sprayers using a spray wand, cone nozzles are common, but other types are used.
Whether a flat fan, cone, or flood nozzle, each type will have multiple nozzle sizes or capacities and they will vary in the droplet size that they produce. For full details refer to this article on the differences in spray nozzles.
When to Change Sprayer Nozzles
Every pesticide will have a certain type of sprayer nozzle that will produce the best result. The Pesticide label will tell you what type of nozzle to use based on the type of spraying you will be doing. Often they will even point you to a specific spray tip to use in several different situations.
A pesticide label might tell you that you need to use a nozzle that produces a coarse droplet while another pesticide might tell you to use a sprayer tip that generates a finer droplet. In this scenario, you would want to use a different tip for each pesticide.
There are many reasons why different pesticides require different droplet sizes. Not all pesticides work the same some need to be thoroughly evenly covered on the surface of a plant leaf in order to kill it, some need to hit the ground in order to be effective so a larger droplet size might be needed to help ensure that the liquid reaches the ground.
Some pesticides are very volatile and might drift more easily than others. If a pesticide is considered to be highly volatile and is a threat to other types of plant life the pesticide label will dictate the conditions under which can be applied and it will likely require that you use an extremely coarse droplet size to minimize drift.
In addition to spray nozzle guidance, the pesticide label will also provide mixing instructions and application rates for various scenarios. The application rate combined with how fast you travel while you spray, will dictate what nozzle size you need. Some pesticides require that you mix it with a certain amount of water per ounce of the product. Also, it may suggest that you spray a certain number of gallons of your pesticide and water solution per acre or per thousand square feet.
For example, if a product that you are spraying requires you to spray at a rate of 10 gallons per acre and you want to spray at 5 miles an hour you are going to have to use a certain size spray tip to achieve that rate. However, if you start using a different pesticide and that label tells you to use 20 gallons per acre when applying the product, you will not be able to use that same spray tip unless you reduce your speed. So if you want to maintain your speed you will have to increase the size of your spray tip.
Sizing spray nozzles and calibrating a sprayer is a topic that warrants further discussion. That is why I have an article that provides more details about this. If you would like to learn more about that you can check out this article that shows how to size a nozzle and calibrate a sprayer.
Factors to Consider When Selecting Sprayer Nozzles
- If the results you’re getting from applying your pesticide herbicide are not as effective as you would like, you can do some research and find out if a different type of spray nozzle might help you achieve better results.
- If wind is often a factor when you’re spraying, you could consider using a spray tip that produces a larger droplet size. This will help reduce the drift, resulting in more chemicals on target, making your application more effective. It will also limit the harm to other plant life near where you are spraying.
- The location of the target pest is also worth considering. Pests might be located in an area that is hard for a normal nozzle to reach. One example is fungicides, there are some specially designed spray tips for specific fungicides that are only used with certain crops if needed.
- The type of spraying and when you spray also make a difference. Pre-emergent herbicides, herbicides sprayed before weeds germinate, will usually require a different spray tip than post-emergent herbicides due to the difference in the rate that is applied and the mode of action. Contact herbicides will require fine droplet sizes, or even a dual fan nozzle to provide adequate coverage on the plant surface.
So What’s The Bottom Line?
In many instances when you are spraying your lawn or field to control weeds you would likely be able to use the same spray nozzle for many different pesticides however it’s vital that you follow the label instructions on the pesticide. You should be cognizant of neighboring yards and gardens, when applying a pesticide and do your best to eliminate potential drift.
In agriculture, there are more methods of controlling pests due to the various crops and the effect pests have on the farmer’s profitability. This means there is a lot more nuance to the application of these pesticides. Therefore it becomes more crucial to consider the type of spray nozzle used and it is likely that in large-scale agriculture you’ll have different spray nozzles for different products, crops, weather conditions, times of the year, etc.
In any given situation there is likely more than one nozzle that can work. The label on the products that you are using and an agronomist will be the best source of information to ensure you use one that is going to be most effective.