The old adage “necessity is the mother of invention” reflects one of the key reasons Lee Kissinger and his father, Marvin, decided to build their own sprayer from the ground up — with mostly spare parts.
As corn, soybean and wheat growers operating on 1,600 acres near Jackson, WI, the Kissingers found their old sprayer, bought in 1973, wasn't enough to do the job.
Its 500-gal. tank was too small; the main undercarriage wasn't sturdy enough to handle a wider, heavier spray boom or a larger holding tank. It was a single-axle unit, and the sprayer's age was simply surrendering to the seasonal rigors of farming. Altogether, these limitations began chewing up too much precious time in the field.
“We knew we needed to cover more ground in less time,” says Lee. “However, buying a new sprayer wasn't in the cards for us, and it wasn't just because it meant a big, out-of-pocket expense. It mainly revolved around the fact that most of the sprayers and literature I looked at didn't individually offer all the best features I wanted.”
Overall, the Kissingers wanted a reliable, safe and efficient sprayer. Achieving that wasn't too difficult, according to Lee, since some of the key components from the older sprayer were salvaged to build the new one.
For example, a radar-monitoring system, which syncs application rates with ground speed, was still in good condition. Also, the pump for tank agitation and spraying, and some of the electronic valves on the old boom were still usable. The wheels were still good, too. A funnel-shaped inductor, which helps mix chemicals in the tank with a high-flow jet stream of water, was also salvaged.
“This inductor to aid mixing was a good safety feature, since it allows the operator to stand at ground level to add liquid chemicals,” says Lee. “The risk of chemical spillage or splashing is greatly reduced.”
To complete the package, Lee and his father bought a 750-gal. tank along with a commercially available 60-ft. boom equipped with 27 spray nozzles for broadcasting (set to 30-in. centers). They added quick- attach caps or drop tubes for band-spraying herbicides and for applying nitrogen. “Switching from broadcasting to band spraying takes less than a half hour,” says Lee.
The hydraulic boom sprayer can easily be raised and lowered from the cab to achieve the desired coverage pattern and reduce drift. Without leaving the cab, the operator can also fold the boom to a 12-ft. width for transport. Lee installed safety lights and turn signals as well.
Holding all these components is a sturdy undercarriage that the Kissingers fabricated from heavy-gauge (6- × 6-in.) tubing from old moldboard plows. Oscillating tandem wheels, with a forage box running gear assembly, were also installed. The sprayer hooks to their tractor with a standard strap hitch.
“With this new, remodeled sprayer, we can now reach ground speeds of anywhere from 7½ to 8½ mph,” says Lee. “This is 1-2 mph faster than our old sprayer. With the added tank capacity, we can now spray and treat about 40-50 acres/hour.”
Not including labor, the remodeled sprayer cost about $ 7,500. The unit took nearly three months to design and build.
“The most time-consuming job was designing the sprayer assembly,” says Lee.