3 steps to winterize your inoculant applicator
Equipment repairs are the last thing you want to deal with when a crop is ready to harvest. Supply chain issues we often face today add to the frustration. This applies to inoculant applicators like any other equipment.
In many cases, last-minute repairs can be avoided by doing a good job of winterizing application equipment in the fall. Generally, we’re talking about two types of applicators: ultra-low volume applicators, like the DE-1000 and newer DE-1008.5, and pressure-type systems, such as the DE-8, DE-25, etc.
If you haven’t already winterized your applicator, here are a few quick items to check off your list:
- Clean and dry applicator equipment before putting it away. Warm water with a small amount of dish soap will help clean the equipment. It’s also important to clean the tanks on these systems. Otherwise, when the systems are first run in the spring, all kinds of crud will find its way into hoses, filters and nozzles. Rinse thoroughly and drain all remaining water. Don’t forget about the filter housings where water can accumulate and freeze. It’s also a good idea to disconnect all hoses, nozzles and the pump tube to allow water to escape. Very low compressed air pressure can also help purge the system of water, but be careful not to damage sensitive parts like pump diaphragms on pressurized systems.
- Add a little RV anti-freeze to the flush bottle on ultra-low volume systems and then run the system for a minute or two to make sure the RV anti-freeze circulates through the pump mechanism, the flow meter and all hoses. Always remember to release the clamp on the pump tube of the low-volume applicators before storing for a longer period. This will help prevent flat spots on the pump hose. Flush the system with water before using it again in the spring. DO NOT use automotive anti-freeze as it has toxins that will affect bacteria later. You can do the same with pressure-type systems by running some RV anti-freeze through the units until all hoses and nozzles are flushed.
- For best results, remove the inoculant equipment from the machine and store in a heated shop.