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Spraying it Forward
tlcstaff | April 5, 2011

New sprayers answer the call for versatility.

By Cindy Ratcliff

 

The elements of a good sprayer are straightforward: precision, efficiency, reliability and control. It’s the configurations and options that often sway landscape professionals to one product or another. Whether you prefer backpack sprayers, tank sprayers, ride-on sprayers or sprayer attachments to fit your existing fleet, you’ll find that manufacturers are making them more versatile, maneuverable and durable.

If maneuverability matters

Ground Logic, in its fourth year of operation, introduced its latest product, the Pathfinder XC (shown left), in response to users who wanted more machine capacity but not the extra expense of some of the larger hydro-driven equipment on the market.

“The Pathfinder provides users with the ability to maintain sports fields and larger commercial properties, yet it is maneuverable enough to be used on residential properties,” says Brice Crawford, president and owner of Ground Logic.

An articulating spreader/sprayer, the Pathfinder has a narrow wheelbase that allows it to fit through a 36-inch gate opening and most common carrier racks. The larger spreading and spraying capacities reduce the need for frequent refills of granular and liquid products.

Jamie Blackstone, owner of B-Green Lawn Care in Superior, Nebraska, initially switched to a Ground Logic sprayer because the machines are manufactured a few hours away in Lincoln, Nebraska, but was quickly won over by the machine’s agility. “The machine is quick and maneuverable — whether you are spraying a 5,000-square-foot lawn or a football field,” says Blackstone, whose spraying season runs April through November. The machine’s nimble performance, coupled with the benefit of consistent speed offered by the machine’s Honda engine, has boosted employee performance and efficiency, translating into a cost-savings for the 11-year-old B-Green Lawn Care.

“The groundspeed makes the calibration stick, and we’re not wasting product, we can get more area covered, and it really cuts down on employee fatigue,” Blackstone says. “The initial investment is worth it when you realize just how much time savings you get.”

Retail price for the Pathfinder XC is $7,395. groundlogicinc.com

If your focus is flexibility

A sprayer that can convert from one piece of equipment to the next offers versatility and considerable savings up front. A multi-machine sprayer attachment means not having to purchase dedicated sprayers for different carrying vehicles; it also doesn’t require the serious investment that its ride-on counterparts do.

Last year, TurfEx introduced two models of sprayer attachments that can be used interchangeably with zero-turn mowers, utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

“The ability for these sprayers to be mounted on several types of vehicles and offer multiple application options with little or no modifications maximizes their flexibility,” says Bruce Carmichael, national sales manager for TurfEx. “It’s basically a one-size-fits-all solution, regardless of the utility vehicles available or the application preference.”

The US-500 and US-1000 can spray using a front-mounted boom, boomless spray head or hand-held spray wand and are electric-driven. They attach to and are powered by the carrying vehicle’s electrical system.

“One goal of the TurfEx line is to allow operators to turn their zero-turn mowers into a Swiss army knife, of sorts, by offering a variety of mower attachments, such as sprayers, spreaders, leaf pushers, dethatchers and brooms,” Carmichael says.

A turf-care professional could mount this sprayer on a zero-turn mower for one project, utilizing the spray bar to apply fertilizer to a lawn, and then on the next project have the same unit in the back of a Gator or a pickup truck to spot-spray flowers and newly planted trees using the handheld spray wand.

The US-500 (50-gallon tank) retails for

$1,199.99. The US-1000 (100-gallon tank) retails for $1,599.99.

If you seek better comfort in a backpack

Backpack sprayers are a staple for many grounds-care professionals. For jobs requiring spot treatment of weeds, insects or diseases, it doesn’t make much sense to pull out the heavy-hitting, large-capacity sprayers. Instead, backpack sprayers allow you to quickly address the problem with a fraction of the effort. While convenient, they have not always rated high in comfort. A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. A full tank of chemical on a backpack sprayer can weigh nearly 40.

“We focused on creating a new commercial sprayer because, based on customer feedback, there was a need to bring to the market a premium commercial sprayer that combined extreme durability with comfort,” says Robert Stanley, product manager for Shindaiwa.

The SP45BPE (shown above) provides this with extra padding for back and waist support that also works to equalize weight distribution during spraying. Shindaiwa also focused on providing a more comfortable handle with a lock on/off feature to reduce hand fatigue for longer spraying, Stanley says.

List price is $114.99

If your passion is precision

The key to consistent application rates lies in consistent groundspeed. Go faster than the speed at which you’ve calibrated, and you don’t apply enough product; go too slowly, and you over-apply. Sprayer equipment with GPS speedometer technology can keep you on pace, calculating exact speeds to ensure precise applications with every spray.

The GPS speedometers on the L.T. Rich Products Z-Spray machines will not only keep you in check during application, but also help you calibrate spray and spread, says Tom Rich, owner of L.T. Rich Products.

“We wanted to help clients eliminate product waste, apply chemicals more precisely and in a more environmentally friendly way,” Rich says. His machines also offer hydraulic-drive hoppers to provide variable spread widths from 4- to 25-feet.

“Environment and bottom line are our main areas of focus, and with a GPS speedometer, you get both,” says Rodney Creech, owner of Lawn Plus in West Alexandria. He owns two Z-Spray machines, a Z-Spray Junior and a Z-Max. His company, which services 70 percent residential clients and 30 percent commercial, sprays March 15 through Dec. 1. “Application accuracy is key.”

For Creech, the Z-Spray line of machines offered more appealing options, such as the adjustable spread width, that he says have helped optimize his crew’s productivity. “If we aren’t spraying, we can go multiple spread widths. We are all about efficiency and options.”

List price is $8,400 to $9,600. zspray.com

If you covet control

ProLawn’s Shielded Sprayers and sprayer attachments use a shielded design that keeps the spray within the spray shield, providing a safer, more environmentally effective way to spray in commercial applications. “We loved to spray years ago, in the 80s, but were sick and tired of coming back with stiff, white-laced pants and clothes that smelled of chemicals. By keeping the spray within the spray shield, you increase a great amount of safety to the operator, public, pets and non-target plants,” says Randy Gerosa, one of the chief operating officers of ProLawn.

“The Shielded Sprayer has made a world of difference to my business,” says Kenny Thexton, owner of Thexton Lawn Maintenance in Tonganoxie, Kansas, who uses it with his Grasshopper mower. The wind has always made spraying a struggle, often forcing him to reschedule jobs, he says. “After a season of not getting any spraying done, I actually lost more money than the sprayer costs. I can spray right up against flowers — just about anything — and not have to worry about it,” Thexton says.

Depending on the model, list prices range from $999 to $4,800.

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