The time it takes to get the sprayer field ready in the spring and how much money it costs depends on how good a job is done putting it away for winter. The necessary winterization process of a sprayer is not much different from doing a thorough clean-out. This can be simplified down to the following steps.

Always use proper PPE and have a thorough understanding of what components are contaminated and with what. Also, know your plumbing systems to identify potential connections under pressure to prevent accidental contamination or injection injuries.

This winterizing process is for Northern climates with temperatures as low as -40°C For warmer climates some steps may not be necessary.

Flush The Plumbing Thoroughly

We have talked to guys who have not done a rinse from fungicide season to the post-harvest end. From how often I have heard this, it likely happens more often than anyone would think. Fungicides are great for collecting dead ends and gumming up-flow meters, strainers, nozzles, nozzle bodies, and even pumps.

This build-up may go unnoticed through the rest of the season but can add to future problems. No one wants to deal with sticking/leaking nozzle bodies or the dreaded grey boom sludge in the spring!

It is also essential to get any solids out of the strainer cups, nozzle bodies, and nozzles before storing the machine as it will only worsen over winter.  The great thing is you can usually drain most of the trouble spots on the machine while inspecting the cleanliness of the plumbing.

Things to Do Before/After Performing a Year-End Rinse

Clean one boom section at a time, using pressures >90psi, and ensure all restriction valves are open for best cleaning results. If the sprayer has not been used for over a week, flush the booms lines before spraying out the nozzles. Use quality tank cleaner and flush well. Note the spray pattern out of each set of nozzles and flag any irregular patterns for further inspection, making sure all nozzle body positions are washed.

Remove check valves and diaphragms from nozzle bodies and inspect for build up inside the nozzle body. This will be most noticeable at the end of boom plumbing sections. Remove filter caps and screens for inspection and cleaning; remove boom end caps and inspect boom lines.

Make sure all suction and pressure lines were rinsed, specifically, the agitation/sparge, bypass, recirculation, and eductor. Note any leaks or problems that may need further attention.

Once the wet system is thoroughly cleaned, it is time to drain as much water as possible. Drain all low spots in the plumbing by removing lines or fittings. Use the inspection port or drain cock on the pump to drain excess water. Drain the rinse tank and, if possible, verify the operation of the check valve.

Remember to get all of the lines, specifically, the agitation/sparge, bypass, recirculation, eductor, rinse tank, and filters on suction and supply lines.

Drain all excess water from booms. Remove end caps from booms or remove check valves, diaphragms, and tip from the outlet from two end nozzles. Tilt wings as high as they will go and allow water to drain out; tilt the center section manually to allow water to drain out. Drain any strainers on the boom – don’t forget the fence row nozzles. Optional: Blow out booms and plumbing with compressed air.

It is easy to build an adapter that can be threaded into a strainer body or fitting to connect a compressor to push excess water out. Use electric and manual valves to build adequate pressure to push out fluids.

Add and Circulate Winterizer Fluid

As a rough rule of thumb, 1 Liter of Winterizer fluid should be used for every foot of boom. If your sprayer has more plumbing than average, a foam marker, or if you have lots of lines on your tendering system to winterize, adjust volumes accordingly. Spray Frost Ultra comes in 1000L totes and 208L Drums for your convenience.

The most popular ways of adding winterizer fluid:

  • Using the eductor and pump on your tendering system
  • Filling the rinse tank or solution tank on the sprayer using a nurse pump then circulating with sprayer pump
  • Pulling winterizer fluid on with the sprayer pump

Once the winterizer fluid is in the sprayer, circulate through all the pressure lines.

Spray through booms one section at a time until a strong concentration of winterizer is visible. Don’t forget the fence row nozzles. Some people will drain the winterizer fluid while others will leave it in the machine through the winter. The benefit of draining it is that there will be a reduced chance of diluted winterizer fluid freezing and breaking parts.

The downside of draining the winterizer fluid is that it leaves rubber and metal parts exposed to air that can cause seals to dry out and crack and metal parts to corrode.

During the wintertime, you may see winterizer fluid push out through some fittings or nozzles. It is typically ok. The product will turn slushy and expand somewhat but should not freeze hard enough to do any damage as long as it was not diluted by excess water in the wet system.

Thoroughly wash and clean the sprayer exterior. Application of coatings or waxes helps to maintain machine value and makes it easier to clean next time it’s done.

Prepare the Exterior

Be sure to wear a rain hat and coat or proper PPE. Avoid directly pressure washing electronic sensors, actuators, and valves as well as hydraulic components. Use a High volume low-pressure nozzle to clean these effectively. Make a note of any damaged, loose, or leaking components.

Brush or physically scrub to remove as much residue from smooth surfaces. Make an effort to wash the spray boom structure to prevent premature corrosion. Apply Rain-X (or similar product) to windshields after cleaning to make them easier to clean in season

Equipment coatings are available to reduce corrosion, make washing more manageable, and approve the appearance of your machine.

Prepare the Interior

Whatever dirt and chemical get brought into the cab needs to be removed, so an excellent preventative measure is to keep chemicals and dirt out in the first place.

Vacuum excess dust and dirt, and scrub the interior down with an actual cleaning product – be sure to clean all of the controls. Cloth seats should be steam cleaned or shampooed – leather seats may be tougher to clean if a chemical has been absorbed into them.

Lubricate door and window seals to help keep the cab pressurized. Be sure to change cab and air recirculation filters in the spring.

More Helpful Winter Storage Tips

Removing nozzle bodies and storing above freezing can help to extend seal life. Nozzle body turrets can be removed, cleaned, and greased with industrial silicone grease. Diaphragms on nozzle body check valves can be cleaned and sprayed with silicone lubricant to extend the life.

Take pictures or note key calibration values for the sprayer and systems. Remove monitors and electronics with LCD and/or touch screens and store them at room temperature. And finally, disconnect or remove batteries to prevent run down.

by Mike Wengryn | General Manager at Nozzle Ninja

Ever gone into town, only to spend over 45 minutes at the parts counter to find the right part, or try and figure out what nozzle is right for your application, only to be told that it will need to be ordered in? The Nozzle Ninja is a trained assassin eliminating wasted time and frustration in purchasing sprayer parts. If you know what you need you are only a few clicks from fast delivery to your location or local post office.