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Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)

Posted by John Rieffel 
Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
June 14, 2014 12:45AM
I have a northern tools 25 gallon tree sprayer that I find insufficient for covering my 60 relatively young semi-dwarf trees -- it currently takes me 3+ hours to lay down a good first cover - and the agitation is imperfect (the first half the orchad is always better covered than the second half. I'm looking to upgrade to something with better agitation and more consistent output (and something used by serious orchardists).

Lacking either a tractor or an ATV, I'd rather have a stand-alone sprayer than a PTO or rear-mounted ATV sprayer, (also since the spacing between trees is pretty small) - for similar reasons I'm not pursuing air blast sprayers (although they do look rather impressive).

Has anyone had experience using a MacKissic Mighty Mac or a Rears Nursery Cart? I spray only neem, surround, and fish/kelp.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 07/16/2014 01:20AM by Michael Phillips.
Re: Standalone or Tow-Behind Sprayer
June 16, 2014 07:07PM
I went with the step up from backpack spraying this year with an ATV spray tank also a northern tools - northstar. It is 16 gallon, and about where I would dray the line wight wish for lugging (ie- the atv-less atv sprayer). I have been pulling it around currently on a sturdy wagon, namely my son's wagon..fully filled. On flat ground it is fine, on most of our terrain..scary. Most orchards that are flat or mildy rolling cound do it without help of an engine if they wanted. The hose I believe is 35 feet long, getting pretty good penetration on about 6-8 trees per stop (standards) so I can station it only occasionally. Incidentally, its coverage is absolutely awesome.

Here is my new plan now, however. A few tanks, placed strategically about the property so they only be moved short distances on relatively flat ground. At 350ish bucks each, it will pay back in the added labor of lugging. We will lug water now (good for the biceps), but are building water collection units around the orchard to eliminate this as well.

We are using a 12 v deep cycle battery, and are going to be getting a solar charger. This will put spraying at pretty low carbon footprint and fossil fuel usage, as well as spraying in complete silence and no fumes. Charge lasts about 4 tanks or 64 gallons.

The delivery volume of these things seems comparable to pto driven ones. A good size orchard would need a few batteries for backup. We want the volume for the holistic sprays and in blocks where we are still using sulfur. We are using the backpack for any spot delivery of calcium and insecticides.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/2015 12:52PM by Todd Parlo.
Re: Standalone or Tow-Behind Sprayer
July 07, 2014 04:33AM
Todd, how many trees are you covering?
Re: Standalone or Tow-Behind Sprayer
July 08, 2014 03:15AM
With this sprayer, less than 200, for spring sprays mostly. We have about 1300 apples all told but many are young and not worth the effort. For those, and for later holistic sprays, and occasional hits of bt, spinosad and foliar calcium we use the backpack, directed at certain problems. I would use the bigger sprayer later in the season if I were to use my surround, but we have a lot of small fruit in the orchard that gets ruined with clay, unfortunately (a diversified landscape has its limits). From working with this scale of unit, I feel it is doable on small orchards like ours. As the numbers climb, I think the only variable will be number of tanks out there, or workers helping with the task.
Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
July 17, 2014 05:01PM
I'd like to jump in here. We are right at the 1/2 acre to 3/4 acre cusp ourselves and this being our first season on a 300 tree established dwarf orchard, we are still figuring out what kind of equipment is appropriate for our scale.

We do have a compact 32hp Yanmar tractor, but I hesitate to use it for spraying.. For one, it doesn't fit down our rows which were planted far too close together 20+ years ago. Secondly, the cost of a PTO driven sprayer may be prohibitive for us at this point. But also, at our scale, I am having a hard time justifying running an engine, generating exhaust, and using diesel fuel to spray.

Here's what we did and it's working OK for us for now. A 25 gallon Agri-Fab tank came with the purchase of our farm that features a 12V electric 1/4 horse diaphragm pump. Now, it's designed and was being used as a pull behind in conjunction with the lawn tractor (and that 12V batt was the power source). But for the same reasons illustrated above, I decided to leave the lawn tractor in the barn and I fastened this tank and it's cart to a heavy duty golf cart that was also left in the barn. I bought another 12V lawn tractor battery for it, strapped it on and viola! I can spray 20-60 psi with a purchased solo wand and this thing actually works. Course it's cumbersome around corners but actually isn't too shabby- almost done spraying our 125 gallons of fermented comfrey, nettle and horsetail teas with kelp.. And without the engine noise that interferes with my reggae listening.

I really like Todd's idea of running it all on solar power. I'd like to look into that myself.

Pictures of the contraption and spraying here:



Nick Segner

Wildcat Valley Farm
Zone 8b
Olympic Peninsula Rainshadow
Port Angeles, Washington

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2014 05:13PM by Nick Segner.
Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
July 25, 2014 06:39PM
I have been using a 25 gallon tank sprayer that sits in the back of an old Club Car Carryall II and runs off the battery. I would rather the Club Car were electric, but the gas motor runs very little during spraying since it is basically a golf cart so when you stop, the motor stops. I can spray about 6 trees per stop, and the battery does not get run down even though it is powering the pump most of the time without the engine running. I went with the Carryall because it is a great general purpose piece of equipment, the 4'x4' box holding six16"x24" picking crates during harvest, and generally useful for carrying T-posts, fence wire etc. for a variety of projects, much more maneuverable than a tractor, ideally suited for short stop and go travel.

Turkey Creek Orchard
Solon, Iowa (zone 5A)
Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
October 29, 2015 06:24PM
An update on this--I just bought a MacKissic 10 GPM sprayer and like what I see, though I have only done a test run with water. The agitation looks very good. The price is half of a similar Rears sprayer with a stainless steel tank.

One problem is that I would prefer a 100 gal tank. It is possible that a diaphragm pump would last longer. Do any others use this sprayer?

Hemlock Grove Farm
Zone 5 in New York
Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
April 05, 2017 02:53AM
We are looking into a 12v sprayer for our orchard. I see two types of pumps available, a diaphragm pump running at about 60psi and a plunger pump running towards 200 psi. Those of you using these pumps, which type are you working with?
Our trees are not that tall, topping out at around 10 ft, though beyond the reach of our backpack sprayer. I would like the pump to be able to handle neem oil, surround, and other less than perfectly soluble spray ingredients, and do wonder if a higher pressure pump would generate a finer mist for more even coverage with less water, more like an airblast sprayer.

Any experiences to share?

Thank you

Jason MacArthur
Whetstone Cider Works
Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
April 05, 2017 04:18AM
Does the sprayer come with jet agitation? I should think you would want that. And the agitation line probably shares pressure with the sprayer wand--the more you adjust for higher pressure for spraying, the less is left over for agitation. Which argues for having a lot of pressure. However, I seem to recall that diaphragm pumps (which is what I have, and have used for a few years with surround and other stuff that wants to settle) stand up better to abrasives like clay. (Or is it the other way around?)

Turkey Creek Orchard
Solon, Iowa (zone 5A)
Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
April 07, 2017 03:38AM
I'm running a 50 gallon tank on a tow behind trailer using a 12V 7gpm diaphram pump. A battery powered pump like this can build quite a bit of pressure, but for spraying the volume needed to coat a m111 to run-off, it has a hard time keeping the pressure up. We are closing in on 500 trees and I'm looking to upgrade to an engine powered system. I wouldn't recommend the battery route.

Roan Highlands Farm 6b, Roan Mountain, TN elevation: 3200 ft.
Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
April 18, 2017 11:33PM
Not quite 'tow behind' but what I have to say fits sortof.
same size of operation, needing more than a backpack. takes me about 50 L to do all spray areas, trees, berries, grapes, gardens per time with holistic spray. now ready to go to bigger equipment but too hilly for trailer, will use TPH design.
How did you resolve your situation back in 2014? any more news? regrets?
How often do you spray surround and how much to cover say 10 or 20 trees?
Locals here say Surround is too messy and itchy for the sprayperson so not popular in ontario.
Niagara area sprayer manufacturer, Rittenhouse, says only use diaphram pumps for wettable powders like clay due to damage pitting to inside of pump likely in one season. Anyone have other experience?

Ian G
Old 99 Farm
Dundas ON 6b
<60 trees
Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
April 20, 2017 12:14AM
Ian if your doing surround use the diaphragm pump . I had a roller pump when I started . Three sprays with surround and she was toast . I went to a AR50 diaphragm on a 50 gallon three point hitch tank . I am rebuilding it for the first time this year . The diaphragms were still good the valves were iffy , and this will be my 3rd regulator in 8- 10 years .

This is tractor powered , a Massey Fergusson 135 with 18.4 x16.1 low profile tires . Great stability on the hillside I'm on .

The surround is messy , your trees will be white but it keeps the bugs away. The two legged kind that feel they have a right to your efforts as well . smiling smileysmileys with beer

Re: Tow-Behind Sprayer (half acre)
June 07, 2018 10:10PM
I got a replacement 12 volt pump for my 25 gallon sprayer, and it has been nothing but problems. It's a Shurflo bypass diaphragm pump, 5.3 gpm and up to 80 psi, but it bogs down in short order when spraying anything but water. I have taken everything apart three times, and water flows readily through all the valves and hoses and fittings. Can't find any blockage. But when it gets spray in the tank (sulfur, surround, spring holistic sprays) the pump gradually slows till it just about stops. Nothing caught in the filter. Then when I flush the tank and put clean water through it it works fine again. Did I get the wrong kind of pump? Did I need a demand pump instead of a bypass pump? There is a bypass line on the sprayer, and I added another with a nozzle on it for agitation, but it doesn't seem to matter whether these lines are on or off, the pump eventually bogs down.

Turkey Creek Orchard
Solon, Iowa (zone 5A)
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