Making light work of spraying


By Digital team | 11 January 2017
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This trailer sprayer, designed by a South African farmer, can be hitched to a quadbike and is capable of spraying 1 ha of citrus trees within 7 minutes.

Fruit flies, false codling moth and black spot are on ongoing problem for citrus farmers in the Sundays River Valley in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, so they’re always on the lookout for ways to combat these pests and diseases. And, as the growing season progresses, a new problem arises – the citrus trees form a dense canopy which makes it difficult to use large equipment in the rows of the orchards without damaging the fruit.

Louis Olivier (50) of Kirkwood, says that although there are many different types of sprayers available commercially, the tank capacity of those mounted on quadbikes is usually less than 60 litres which means they have to be refilled often. Spraying the orchards with backpack sprayers is a time-consuming process and applying the poison is not as accurate.

Then, while attending a railway auction in Dispatch, Louis came across a fibreglass tank used for fighting fires with a capacity of 120 litres and mounted on wheelbarrow wheels. “That was my lucky day; I managed to buy two of the tanks for a mere R35 (ZMK25) each.”

Louis Jnr. (left) and Louis Olivier on their farm Frislug in the Kirkwood district.
Louis Jnr. (left) and Louis Olivier on their farm Frislug in the Kirkwood district.

PLAN OF ACTION

Back on the farm, Louis dismantled the two pieces of equipment and started planning how to alter the sprayers to meet his requirements.

He replaced the wheelbarrow wheels with second-hand quadbike wheels at a cost of R1 000 (ZMW 733) and then shortened the axle of a new Venter trailer (R750 = ZMW 550) in his workshop. The 12V electric Marco pump equipped with a regulator plus hoses, nozzles and taps cost him a further R3 000 (ZMW 2 200). The steel for the chassis on which the sprayer is mounted cost about R400 (ZMW 293).

CALIBRATED SPRAYER

After he’d built the sprayer, it needed calibration, which is determined by the speed, pressure and size of the nozzles.

“I filled the tank with water and rode the quadbike at 15km an hour. At that speed, I could spray 1 hectare within 7 minutes.”

Louis set the pressure and size of the nozzles to apply 15 litres of pesticide per hectare. He can spray about 9 hectares before it is necessary to refill the tank. He says he’s not planning to patent his sprayer.

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Power is supplied to the sprayer using a Brad Harrison connection and the quadbike battery.

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Because the two nozzles spray in both directions, it’s possible to skip every other row in the orchard.

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The pressure regulator of the sprayer.

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The 12 V Marco pump and the filter viewed from above.

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The sturdy fibreglass tank has a capacity of 120 litres and was originally used on railway fire equipment.

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The filter can be unscrewed.

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The quadbike wheels have been attached to a shortened car trailer axle – this ensure a hassle-free ride in the orchards.

ENQUIRIES: Mr Louis Olivier, cell +7272 256 2020; email: Louis@kirkwood.co.za