An injector is one of the best upgrades a grower can make to a boom system. An injector automates the process of applying plant additives and chemicals, reduces the amounts used with consistent results, shrinks labor costs associated with traditional spraying methods, and minimizes human exposure to treated areas.
The boom can double as a plant additive application device by using an in-line injector that pumps a concentrated stock solution and runs it through the boom’s manifold and out to the spray tips, distributing an even pattern of chemicals to the plants on the bench or floor below.
By mounting the injector system right on the boom versus utilizing only a mainline central injector, the waste that comes with charging the whole line will be eliminated, allowing for crop-specific application rates to be readily available at the boom’s manifold. Being able to control when and how the chemicals will be applied, all with little effort, is a huge time saver.
Various tips or nozzles can be installed onto the spray bar, achieving almost any droplet size. For most insecticides and plant growth regulators, growers prefer the finer droplet sizes, while a coarser drop is the usual choice when applying fertilizers, fungicides, or plant additives. When a drenching of the growing media is necessary, some boom control systems allow a grower to set a program for “Step-Stop” where the boom can step through each row of plants, stop on them one row at a time, and saturate the soil. Contact your boom irrigation system provider to see if this option is available.
How To Make It Work For You
Retrofitting an injector system to a boom’s manifold takes very little effort or cost, and most boom manufacturers sell a kit that allows the grower to install the system in-line to their current configuration. Injectors are available in a mounted design, where a single injector is installed permanently on a boom, or in a portable design, where one injector can be used on multiple Booms using a quick-connect type of manifold. Most growers choose the portable concept, as it is not always necessary for each boom to have its own unit.
Whether mounted or portable, maintenance is very important to quality and accurate results. Most manufacturers have a list of preventative maintenance measures that can be performed on a schedule that are meant to extend the life of the unit. In addition, always thoroughly clean and flush the injector and the boom manifold after each use, and between applying different chemicals, as residue or sediment from the concentrated solutions can build up and may cause harm to the injectors inner moving parts and/or the booms manifold, solenoids, and/or nozzles.
Lastly, always monitor the output of the injector system to ensure it is performing as expected. Use a field EC/ppm meter to perform intermittent tests of what comes out of the spray tips and double-check that they match the desired results. The user can never assume that an injector is working properly and should make the calibration and inspection of the unit a standard practice. Contact the injector manufacturer to get a list of recommended practices to better guarantee the performance of the system.
Though an injector may not completely replace the pressure sprayer method of chemical application, using a boom irrigator to apply plant additives is a great way to get even coverage over the crop when the higher pressures are not necessary. Everything from drenching the root media to applying a fine mist can be performed with effective results, and all with very little effort. Contact your boom irrigation system provider for more information.
Note: When applying any and all plant additives, always refer to the manufacturer label for specific application information and follow all instructions. When testing application amounts, injector ratios, different tips or nozzles, or a new method of application, it is best to trial on a small area before applying to larger areas.