Is your granular nematicide applicator ready for spring?

Granular applicators need to be fully operational and correctly calibrated to safely apply nematicides. This includes checking for damage, getting it professionally calibrated and being ready to complete daily output checks while application machinery is being used.

Machinery check

As granular nematicide applicators are only used during potato planting in spring, they spend most of the year stored in the corner of a machinery shed.

They should therefore ideally be cleaned at the end of use, as this will help reduce the chance of any corrosion or rust forming during storage.

Applicators should be removed from the storage shed and checked at least a month before they are due to be used, looking for any damage which may have occurred during storage. For example, external damage because of another machine bumping into it that may affect the machine internally

The machine should also be serviced at this time, replacing any parts which are worn out and ensuring it is in working order. If there is any doubt, then it is best to seek the advice of a machinery specialist to ensure it is safe and legal.

Checking granular applicator machinery in December allows sufficient time to make any repairs before it is needed in spring.

Granular applicator calibration

Granular nematicide application machinery must be calibrated by NSTS at least once every two years. This is part of the Nematicide Stewardship Programme’s (NSP) best practice steps, which are part of the Red Tractor standard for fresh produce.

  1. Professional calibration is best carried out ahead of the season when granular nematicides are due to be applied. The professional calibrator will thoroughly check the condition of the machine, as well as calibrating it. The full calibration process includes:
  2. – A general visual assessment of the applicator
  3. – Remove the metering cassettes or units
  4. – Strip them out and clean/check/service them
  5. – Reassemble and refit in applicator
  6. – Check drive/motors/fan/airflow/fishtails/hoses/fixings/Granupac receiver lids
  7. – Carry out a calibration with the live product to be used

Daily output check

In addition to a professional calibration every two years, operators need to carry out a daily output check each day the granule application machinery is being used. This confirms that the correct amount of product is being used for the area treated.

Full details on how to carry out an output check can be found here.

Calibrating granular nematicide application machinery properly ensures the correct dosage is applied, protecting the environment and operator. By ensuring machinery is calibrated, growers can help keep nematicides available as a tool to tackle nematodes and other soil pests.