Food Plot Sprayer Tips

By Josh SturgillJuly 15, 2013

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

I recently had the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream and purchase a large track of property with some of my long time hunting buddies. When we started contemplating the size and locations of our food plots, like most men we decided bigger had to be better. We started this process and quickly learned that we did not have the equipment to do the job. The ATV equipment and sprayers just did not have the coverage area to do the jobs we needed done in the short amount of time we had available.

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CropCare manufactures innovative and dependable agricultural sprayers perfect for bowhunters looking to maintain their food plots. Their products are engineered for quality and they offer agricultural 3pt mounted type and Trailer mounted type sprayers from 55 gallon to 1000 gallons as well as smaller ATV and Lawn Sprayers.

As my dream about acres of well-manicured food plots, which would bring deer in from miles around, turned into the reality of food plots that looked like an abandoned lot on the south side of Chicago, I knew I needed some help. I just purchased a compact/midsized tractor and I was looking to have a more industrial type sprayer vs. the small one I strap to my ATV. I wanted to have more control and get more spraying done in the time I have available. However, the only problem is I know nothing about this type of device. Thank God I met someone that could help. Eric Burkholder with Crop Care in Lititz, PA was gracious enough to spend some quality time with me and discuss the Crop Care Equipment 3 Point Hitch Sprayer I so desperately needed, as well as some technical information that will put me on a path to the beautiful food plots I had been dreaming of.

What follows is my conversation with him. My hope is that if, like me, you’re just getting started in the food plot business (or even if you’re a seasoned veteran), you will walk away with some knowledge that will help make your food plots the best they can be and put that big buck in front of your stand this fall.

Q: In your experience, who buys this food plot device? Why is it needed?
A: We serve home, farm, and commercial with our sprayers, but here we are looking at the “hobby” farmers-needing food plots for wildlife. People would normally use this type of equipment with ATVs or UTVs but, because of the size of the food plots it would make it too time consuming.  Maybe a small farm or hunting club; someone utilizing large acreage, that because of time management needs to move up to a small tractor and more efficient equipment.

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I didn’t know it, but this piece of equipment (three point hitch mounted sprayer) was just what I needed to speed up my food plot process.

Q: Is there any advantage to a 12 foot boom over a 20 foot boom?
A: Maneuverability is greater with the 12 foot boom; it’s narrower than the 20 foot boom. For example, if you take a rough ATV trail to get to your food plot, the 20 foot boom may be more difficult to get through the brush. The benefit for the 20 foot boom, however, is the increased coverage, which decreases your application time. Less crop damage. More consistent coverage; less chemical waste.

Q: How much water should I spray per acre?
A: First, read the chemical labels and manufactures recommendations. Typically 15-25 gallons/acre might be a good range to use. In the agriculture industry, broad leaf killers are applied at 20 gallons/acre. Round-up type chemicals are more potent, so it’s probably more like 10-12 gallons/acre but, make sure you are following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Q: What are the benefits or differences between a PTO (Power Take Off)  pump or a DC pump type of sprayer?
Using a PTO, you have greater reliability and performance. You will get higher working pressures and higher flow rates. With a 12 volt pump, you are limited with what you can power. Pumps are limited in performance based on the amp draw of the motor. Reliability; the PTO pumps are very basic and pretty much maintenance free. With the 12 volts, you have chemical compatibility issues with the rubber diaphragms. Also, if they get condensation from being left outdoors, it can cause issues.

Q: What is an agitator?
A: The chemicals are mixed with a carrier, in most cases, the carrier is water. In these instances, the key is to keep the chemical suspended in the water to ensure it stays mixed up and diluted properly.  The pump typically generates excess or bypass flow, not used to spray. The unused flow during spray comes back into the tank. Once it comes back into the tank, it creates a jet. For example, if you were to put in one gal/minute in, the jet agitator takes another gallon from the tank, mixes it with the one gallon bypass flow and creates a higher outflow, possibly two gallons/minute. It helps increase the circulation in the tank and keeps the chemical suspended in the water.

Q: What makes the Crop Care Equipment 3 Point Hitch Sprayer different from any other?
A: We select components that are available and assemble them to the unit. We try to select good quality components that are reliable. We use quality chassis, attach quality components and use an outstanding boom to create a superior product. The finish is important – the corrosiveness of some of these chemicals, requires a good powder coat and we make sure that our units have the best finish possible. The ability to offer options that will fit a variety of customizable units. We offer a “build to order” based on the specifications the customer provides.

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For smaller jobs, the CropCare 25 Gallon ATV Sprayer is great for maintaining smaller food plots that don’t require the help of a larger tractor. It is built with the same ruggedness as those used on larger tractors and comes with a full one year warranty.

Q: How easy is it to drain the tanks and switch to a different spraying application out in the field with your equipment?
A: The bottom of the tank has a shut off valve with an in-line suction filter. The valve can be opened, drained into a separate container, and responsibly disposed of. We try to make it as easy as possible for our customers to make these changes in the field.

Q: What do you suggest when it comes to winterizing the sprayer?
A: First and foremost, the tank should always be drained and rinsed and washed out with fresh water. These corrosive chemicals can affect the rubber hoses, gaskets, etc.  After the sprayer is clean, put in RV antifreeze. Run the RV antifreeze through the pump, up through the controls and out of the boom. The entire system is then winterized.  RV antifreeze is recommended because it is much less toxic to humans and animals. When the sprayer is needed in the spring, you can spray the antifreeze on the ground and get started.

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CropCare also offers Foam Marker Kits which are very versatile and easy to add to any sprayer. They help you to track where you have been throughout the food plot which will prevent skipping and wasteful overlap of the chemicals. They are a great return on your investment.

Q: Technical assistance? Can I call someone with trouble shooting help? 
A: Yes, we have a technical service department in addition to a customer service department. The customer service department will likely be able to help you troubleshoot some minor issues. If it’s a more complex issue, we have the technical service guys help you out. We have guys who understand the products that our customers use because they are very involved with the items themselves.

Q:  What is the best way to find more out Crop Care Equipment and your products?
A: The best way is to check us out on the web at www.cropcareequipment.com or give us a call at (717) 738-7365.


Josh Sturgill
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