Proficient Application

A Better Way to Get Ready to Spray

Eric McLean found a way to increase his efficiency during spraying time and shorten his reload time to seven minutes. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by John Dietz)

Seed grower Eric McLean was frustrated as he lost precious spraying time preparing the next load for the sprayer. He felt there had to be a better way.

In 2015, he "retooled" his operation with a truck and trailer, and a complete chemical-handling system.

"We increased our efficiency by 50%," McLean said. "Our reload time is down to seven minutes now, as long as a water truck man is available. It's made a big difference for us."

McLean is operations manager for BenLedi Farm Ltd. and J.S. Henry and Son, in Oak River, Manitoba, Canada. The farm has 5,600 acres of pedigreed seed production.

The operation uses a John Deere 4940 sprayer with a 120-foot boom and 1,200-gallon tank.

The water truck-trailer-tender combination that supports the sprayer is a "dinosaur" from the lumber-hauling business. It cost less than a new farm diesel pickup, but it works great for the seed grower, McLean said.

The equipment carries three loads of water for the sprayer. Two 1,400-gallon water tanks are mounted on the 25-foot truck deck. A massive pintle hitch connects this to the 26-foot tender, where McLean has a third water tank at the end and two chemical totes side-by-side.


On the front half of the tender is the Setter Complete Chemical Management System (CCMS), built by Setter Manufacturing Division of Russell, Manitoba.

Greg Setter, president and general manager, is a specialist in agricultural pumps, pipes, sprayers and flowmeters. Setter built the first CCMS about 15 years ago. He ships 2-inch and 3-inch systems into the U.S. and Western Canada. Current retail price for the higher-capacity system is $9,370 CDN.

McLean's CCMS has a 13-hp Hypro gas engine with electric start and 3-inch pump. Other components include an 81-inch steel frame with fork lift slots, Banjo manifold inductor, 42-gallon cone tank with a stainless steel knife, plus plumbing, fittings and flush lines.

McLean's version is customized with a flowmeter, plumbing for up to five intake lines and three 66-gallon tanks with a special rinse feature. High capacity and flexibility are the key benefits.

The tender trailer, with the chemical-management system, chemical and enough water for at least one sprayer fill, can be detached and left for the sprayer's return while the truck goes for a water refill. The water truck can fill anywhere without a contamination risk for the water source.

When the sprayer returns, the operator can fill again without waiting for the water truck. If the water truck driver is available, he can prepare the load for the sprayer. Then, the sprayer refill time is cut to about 10 minutes.

"We are unique with putting valves in a series to draw chemical from different totes without worry about cross-contamination, and we are unique in the flow rates," Setter said. "We can draw chemical at 49 gpm [gallons per minute] out of the tote, and we can top up water at 440 gpm."

The system could be shorter, with the addition of 90-degree elbows and T-pipes, but that would slow the flow, he said.


Drawing chemicals from a choice of three separate jugs or two totes without cross-contamination enables high flexibility in the field. A mix of three herbicides, surfactant and a bulk chemical can be prepared in minutes while the sprayer is working.

"We can do that work ahead of time, cutting foils and rinsing jugs. With the 3-inch line, we recharge our sprayer in less than 10 minutes. If we have everything in place, we can easily spray 600 acres every five to six hours," McLean said. "If we had to and had a perfect day, we could spray all 2,000 cereal acres in one long day with one sprayer."

For his former system, the seed grower had two fills of water in a tank on a truck but no handling equipment. He relied on the inductor on the sprayer. It worked, he said, but it could take 35 minutes for the refill. Then, the load would last an hour in the sprayer. The pressure for the operator was huge.

"Setter's system is not necessarily cheap, but why should we sideline our sprayer for a cheap option? We decided to put some money into a truck and tender unit that can actually keep up with what we want the sprayer to do," McLean said.