Is a ground rig or an airplane more effective at applying pesticides? Wolf says each delivers pesticides effectively; one is not better than the other. However, it is possible to cover more acres with an airplane which can be an advantage in certain situations, including wet ground conditions, short application windows, and growing crops with a canopy.

Modern spray systems have similar components: poly or stainless steel tanks; pumps, strainers, and agitation; pressure gauges; hoses and flow control assemblies; electronics including monitors, computers, and controllers utilizing GPS/GIS technology; a distribution system; and spray nozzles. The GPS/GIS system especially adds to the higher price and makes some sprayers different than others.

New developments in sprayer technology include improved flow back control for better chemical shutoff. New nozzle body turrets hold up to five different-type and size nozzles and spin the nozzles 360 degrees to provide more flexibility and improved flow.

Other advances include improved rate controllers, GPS-based auto steering, and advanced automatic boom section control which helps applicators reduce double spraying (overlaps) and avoid skips.

“The more sections you can control on the boom the better,” Wolf explained. “Some companies are working their way toward a control for every nozzle. At that point we’ll be at the ultimate in variable rate possibilities.”

A KSU farm management and agricultural economics group website located at is designed to help applicators determine the affordability of automatic boom control advancements. The technology pays for itself sooner when used on irregular-shaped fields.

While the spray machine is important, Wolf says the most critical component to maximize droplet coverage is the spray nozzle.