Weed War

Weed War

Employers are responsible for providing all personal protective equipment (PPE) required on the herbicide label. The law also requires applicators to correctly wear PPE, so be sure to check the label before you start the application. For example, some labels require long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and boots with socks, while other labels may require additional pieces, such as rubber boots and respirators.

Equipment Check

Tractor checkpoints are similar to those on your car, and should be inspected daily or upon use. Remember the phrase GOT W? Check these before you start your application:
– “G” stands for gas or diesel
– “O” is oil
– “T” is tire pressure
– “W” is water level in the radiator
Once that is complete, it’s important to inspect your sprayers. Check all nozzles, strainers, and orifices for any obstructions. Scan for leaks or obstructions in filters, strainers, and hoses. Make sure valves operate freely with no leaks. Check for leaks on connections on the application and agitation lines. Be sure pressure gauges are operating freely. And allow your nozzle patterns to overlap by 30% for best coverage. Some nozzles require more overlap, depending on boom height, design, etc.

Mixing And Loading

Fill the tank 1/3 full with water. Start the agitation in the tank. Next, carefully measure all chemicals on a flat surface, below eye level. Be sure the measuring cup is precise enough for the measured units. This step is critical, so don’t rush.
Slowly add chemicals to the tank. Don’t forget the proper PPE and be careful to follow the “WALES” (W-Wettable Powders; A-Agitation; L-Liquids; E-Emulsifiables; S-Surfactants) mixing orders.
When supplying water to the tank, remember to use a backflow prevention device. This can be a check valve, artesian pressure, or simply keeping a gap between the fill-hose and tank. Remember, always leave enough space for the liquid inside the tank to move. An overfilled tank can force the lid off, allowing the tank’s contents to spill onto the ground.

Final Preparations

Check the weather and field conditions before application. Wind and rain can cause drift and wash-offs, thus failure of the herbicide application. Before you begin an application, also inspect the area to be sprayed. Look for obstacles, people, pets, and other crops that could be damaged by the herbicide. Picking bins and ladders are sometimes forgotten and left behind by harvesting crews.

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Clean-Up Time

Once the herbicide application is complete, park the tractor in a permanent or temporary wash station and, while still wearing appropriate PPEs, clean the equipment thoroughly. Extra attention needs to be given to the areas of the tractor that came in contact with the herbicide, including the boom, pump, tires, and tank.


Reference: Brian Boman et al. “Herbicide Application Best Management Practices for Citrus Grove Workers.” AE246. UF/IFAS.