Sections, nozzles and row automatic turn off and on technology for sprayers can result in considerable savings by not double treating at headland turns, point rows, terraces and/or waterways.

Farmers are beginning to expect the use of this technology when custom application is being done on their fields. Farmers realize the technology is available at a cost that is by no means prohibitive; therefore, they’d prefer doing business with an ag retailer or custom applicator that is using the equipment to be the most efficient for charging less in crop protection products.

The cost for this technology early on, as it first became widely available, was priced around $2000 for the minimal technology and price has adjusted depending upon specific technology and equipment, according to equipment specialists with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Section control cost is above the cost of other necessary equipment. At minimum, other requirements are a:

  • GPS receiver
  • Controller with software capable of automatic section/row control
  • Proper boom valves for sprayers
  • Other components can include a flow meter/control or other sensors to maintain the desired application rate when turning rows or sections on/off. There can be a few other components and cables necessary, too.

The Extension Service calculations show input savings from 5 percent to more than 30 percent for each pass across a field using automatic section control. However, these savings are dependent upon field shape and size with higher benefits occurring in large, irregular shaped fields or fields containing conservation management structures such as grass waterways and terraces.

Benefits of section control and/or individual nozzle control technology can include:

  • Improved overall sprayer and planter accuracy
  • Reduced overlap thus reducing overall input costs
  • Improved environmental stewardship
  • Reduced crop damage from over‐application
  • Improved application efficiency
  • Optimized operator efficiency.

Not considering the cost of a guidance system to use in conjunction with an automatic section control, payback can occur in one to two growing seasons for a farmer who purchases a section control for a liquid applicator.

The volume that a custom applicator unit can cover will be considerably more acres due to the many efficiencies. Appreciative customers, if they know your equipment is so sophisticatively equipped, will be more likely to contract custom application services.