Benefits of RTK Obstacles for Spraying Operations

25 Jan 2024 11:23 AM By AJ

Why grass in waterways?

Grassed waterway in Velm, Belgium, during a sunny day
By Evrardo - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Grass or permanent vegetation established in waterways protects the soil from concentrated water flows and significantly reduce gully erosion.

Grassed waterways convey runoff from terraces, diversions, or other water concentrations without causing erosion or  flooding Prevent gully formation Protect/improve water quality        

Do you outline waterways?

Due to the general poor accuracy, a complete lack of boundaries, and the need to not kill the grass in the waterway, sprayer applicators will outline all waterways with a single sprayer pass. This allows them to use that previous coverage to control the boom shutoff capabilities of the sprayer. Regardless if your sprayer technology only shuts off at the whole boom or has control down to each individual nozzle the previous coverage from the outline pass is required to maintain full coverage of the crop. Thus preventing inadvertent application to the grass.

But we are not getting the full benefit of nozzle control everywhere!

What if we could eliminate the need to outline waterways with the technology we already have? Let us show you how a little extra work in the winter when the time crunch is off can go a long way. Combining sprayer nozzle control with high accuracy boundaries of passable obstacles you can simplify opertaion execution, reduce stressful hand steering, and save time in your peak situations.

Diagram drawing of a passable waterway showing sprayer passes and coverage

The Difference with Path Planning

Consider an example 73 ac field with 3 waterways all exiting at the northeast corner. Traversing those waterways with a 120 ft sprayer without the need to outline due to precision boundaries can save up to 20% of the operational spraying time on even a reasonably simple field and reduce headland driving by 60% where operator fatigue can build.

Farm sprayer path plan comparing a 120 foot path plan outlining passable grass waterways versus traversal with section control shut off
To craft this example we used Path Planner to create two plans. One for a field outlining the waterway, and one where we are able to traverse this waterway. Once saved we can then use our compare tool to compare individual plans for a given field. 

Across a 6,000 acre farm, that 20% savings can drop the duration from 11 spraying days down to 9 across the entire farm.

*Assuming a 120 ft sprayer at 100 ac/hr in operation with 55% field efficiency and 10 hr days

Winter planning means more time at the lake

Adirondack Chair on boardwalk

The good news is that most spraying equipment now comes standard with the technology already installed in your equipment to realise these efficiency gains; Individual nozzle control and high accuracy GPS. 

Hopefully, we have got you thinking how some work during the off season can give you some tangible benefits during the growing season. Not to mention the reduction in stress that can accumulate while executing season critical operations.

If you would like to learn more about grass waterways and their use in agriculture here are some additional resources for further reading;

(Canada) - Grass Waterways
(US)National Resource Conservation Service - Grassed Waterway (Ac.) (412)

Better yet, to see how much you can benefit from passable waterways login to Launch Pad and start making your plans!