The PinPoint spraying system allows farmers to keep spray pressure constant, even while turning corners
PinPoint is a recently released spraying system that is generating a lot of interest among farmers, because of some advanced features that they haven’t seen before, such as individual nozzle shut off and turn compensation.
Farmers have been using other products like Aim Command and Sharpshooter for a while, and these popular sprayer control systems have allowed them greater flexibility by maintaining a constant spray pressure at varying speeds.
Both products use Capstan Ag Systems Inc.’s patented Pulse-Width Modulation technology, which allows the operator to select a pressure for the faster speed that he can achieve on a straight run and still be able to slow down for the corners without the pressure changing. Aim Command is pre-installed on Case IH SPX sprayers and Sharpshooter is an after-market product that can be adapted to fit any make of sprayer.
Similarly, PinPoint can also be installed on any manufacturer’s spray equipment and it too uses the Pulse-Width Modulation technology, but integrates it with individual nozzle control. Farmers can turn each individual nozzle on and off as required to give more accuracy and help reduce overlap.
Controlling individual nozzles could offer a lot of potential for row crops too or any application where farmers may want to increase or decrease the volume of a nozzle or any group of nozzles such as wheel tracks or boom ends.
What’s generating the most interest, says Curtis Kuchinka, Capstan Ag’s field marketer for Western Canada, is the PinPoint turn compensation feature. “If you consider a sprayer putting out a specific rate per acre across the full width of the boom, when you make a turn too much product is applied on the slow side and not enough is applied on the fast side,” says Kuchinka. “PinPoint technology will compensate for that, so it diminishes the volume on the slow side and increases the volume on the fast side of the boom.”
This reduces the risk of over-application of pesticides and resulting crop injury on the slow side of the boom as it turns and ensures that adequate chemical is applied to the fast side to ensure a lethal dose and kill weeds. “Making sure that the weed has been eradicated is going to contribute towards avoiding herbicide tolerance in those plants,” says Kuchinka.
Turn compensation was definitely the selling feature for Colin Rosengren, who farms 5,000 acres of grain near Midale, Saskatchewan. “The main thing to me is the turn compensation,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of obstacles in the field and when you have got a 120-foot boom it seems like I’m never driving in a straight line. When you figure out the geometry of turning around this and turning around that, pretty soon you’re applying four times the rate on the inside boom and a quarter of the rate on the outside, and that’s on a moderate corner. So to me it just seemed ridiculous to spend $300,000 on a sprayer and go out and do a terrible job of application.”
The PinPoint system is fully automated and works in conjunction with the rate controller on the sprayer and the GPS mapping system, so basically the operator simply pushes the start button and the system does the rest. “What producers have told me is it makes operation easier,” says Kuchinka.
Rosengren’s PinPoint system works with the Raven Viper controller in his sprayer, and the display, he says, shows the pulse frequency of each nozzle. As he turns he can see that the outside boom is spraying more and the inside is spraying less. “You just turn it on and operate the monitor as normal, set your rates as you always would, so you’re operating the same thing but it does a better job,” he says.
It also saves them money by reducing overlap. The more challenging are the features of the land they are spraying, the more savings they get. “There are two different gallon counters on the system and we keep track of the volume that the rate controller thinks it’s applying and also keep track of the amount of volume that is actually being applied,” says Kuchinka. “On a 1,000 gallon tank that [difference] might be 10 gallons or 50 gallons, it depends on how many obstacles and turning the producer is exposed to. The uglier the terrain the more turn compensation is engaged and the more savings can be realised.”
Rosengren has calculated that he is saving money on his chemical bill, through reduction of overlap. “The system measures the usage with individual nozzle shut off versus the usage if you had section control and it’s consistently between 3-1/2 to four per cent depending on the field and the obstacles and so on and that’s just savings from overlap,” he says.
The PinPoint system performs a continual diagnostic of the solenoid valves on each nozzle body, so if there is an electrical fault in any of the nozzles it will alert the operator immediately, so it can be fixed.
PinPoint retails for around $32,000 installed, so it is more expensive than other systems like Sharpshooter, which costs around $20,000, but generally, says Kuchinka, producers consider the value of turn compensation in terms of reduced crop damage. “When producers think about damage to the host crop they realise there are many situations where they are mis-applying in a turn,” says Kuchinka, “and this system prevents that from happening.”
“The cost of a sprayer is getting a bit outrageous, but the additional cost of this system is what makes the whole thing function the way it’s supposed to — you’re actually applying things the way you mean to,” says Rosengren. “If you’re going to buy a sprayer to do the job of applying chemical you may as well do it right.” †