View Full Version : calibration of a spreader
when it comes to fertilization useing my lesco spreader i only use the spreader setting on the bag as a starting point. some time ago i was going through a lot of fertilizer and not doing nealy as much sq. ft. as the total bags. i built a small ply wood box that fits under my spreader and collects the fertilizer and i weigh it to see how much product i am putting out per 1000 sf. and found that i was useing about 25-35% more product then what the bag said to use. my question is any of you ever use or see that plastic container that is used for cal. broadcast spreader or how do you do it . the box that i made up out of plywood leaks some product and i cant get a accrut weight on the product used.<p> thanks,anthony
03-16-2000, 09:38 PM
I've often thought about that method. In fact, Prizelawn sells a plastic one that hooks right up to the spreader. However, it never seems practical, and I find that measuring areas and working with a set amount of materials works for me. For instance, if a bag covers 12,500 square feet, I will measure off an area that size (on a ball field or some other wide open account). Then, I spread the material, and make sure that I keep track of how far under or over I was. By doing this a couple of times in the Spring, summer and fall we seem to get pretty close. It helps to go on a lined football field so you can use the yardlines as markers. This method works for me because some products go throught the spreader more easily than others. This way I can monitor each different product and what setting works the best, compared to what the bags say.<p>----------<br>Phil Grande - Soundview Landscape Supply - http://members.aol.com/slsnursery<br>Ivy League Landscaping - http://members.aol.com/scagrider<br>
03-16-2000, 10:59 PM
True calibration is a two step process. First part is measuring as above to determine proper flow rate of product.<p>Hardest part is determining the proper broadcast pattern, i.e.: how is the product spread laterally. True calibration of a spreader requires placing collection pans about a foot apart across the path of your spreader, to determine the actual spread of the product. While it is very time consuming, it is the only way to be accurate. I have seen what appears visually to be an even spread on a flat surface, to really be applying 1/3 of product to left of spreader, and 2/3 to right. When calibrating a 1998 Lesco spreader with a friend, we found that it deposits way over a double dose of product in a 1 to 2 foot wide band just right of center. Few months later a golf magazine published same data, and Lesco came out with a fix last spring (change in gearing). So anyone using a Lesco over a year old, not having installed the retro kit, is doing the same thing. We could not get an even distribution with any of the hole settings.<br> <br>To calibrate spread, place collection pans across path about a foot apart, staggering in center so you can roll machine past them. Now make a number of passes, about 5 to 10 depending on quantity of product. We then pour each pan into a 3/4"x6" test tube held in a rack to simulate position of pans. The height of product in the tubes will show the pattern of distribution. Then you use spread adjustment mechanism on machine (hole with slider on Lesco), to change to get an even spread. [Unfortunately, when you change the hole, you also change the flow rate, so you now have to recalibrate that. That's why we use Spykers: the spread calibration is separate from the flow calibration.] Lesco used to sell a kit for this type of calibration; maybe still do.<p>When you have an even right to left distribution, then you look out on each side to the point(pan or tube) that product drops to 1/2 rate of middle, and that is your working spread width.<p><p><p>----------<br>Jim<br>North central Indiana
Cake walk. Get a bag of cat litter. Measure off an area 100' in length. Weigh the cat litter, dump it in the spreader. Spread the litter the along your 100' area. Measure the area/swath of litter. (approx. , doesn't have to be the farthest pellets, just good coverage. Weigh what's left in the spreader. Difference is what you just put down.<br>Ex. 100'L x 10'W = 1000'sq. - started with 8lbs. of litter, have 3lbs. left in hopper - you just put down 5lbs/1000'sq..
03-17-2000, 10:33 AM
Great system for cat litter, but we use fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. The density & flow rates for each product are very different. The volume of 5# of cat litter may equal 10# of fertilizer, or 2# of Tupersan.<p>Even on systems like Lesco machines & products, you are cautioned that your individual machine must be calibrated. Take two machines off the assembly line and set at same settings, first may deliver 5#/K, second may do 4.5#/K. And after using the first machine for 2 yrs, it may now put out 6#/K.<p>Also the machine putting out 5#/K at 8 am, 40% humidity on a summer day may only be doing 4.5#/K at 3 pm, 90% humidity. If you want to calibrate, it is an ongoing process.<br>But that is the only way you will know what you are doing. Can I cut cost by 10% by using 10% less product, and still get the same results? Or even 25%?<br><p>----------<br>Jim<br>North central Indiana
03-17-2000, 09:00 PM
I calibrate (not as often as I should) the same way as Phil. One of the reasons I'd like to switch spreader brands is that the Earthways we have don't correspond to recommended settings listed for the products our supplier carries.<p>----------<br>Dave in S.Ontario<br>www.cutntrim.com
GroundKprs, allow me to clarify something. The cat litter is for calibration purposes only. That way you can leave it laying without waste of fert. or harm to the environment.<br>By the way, I was taught this method by a professor (phd. type) of Horticulture at N.C. State University, he has also had a full service (landscaping) side bus. for the last ten yrs.. If it's good enough for him it's damn sure good enough for this solo act.
03-19-2000, 07:39 PM
I definitely don't want to antagonize, but I have to agree with Jim. Cat litter is clay or claylike, and probably zips through on a dry day. Theoritically this works for similar products, and I too would be satisfied with those results if I was one man using one spreader. I calibrate not only to make sure that I am putting down the correct amount of product, but to ensure that each of our spreaders is spreading the same amount when set at the same setting. This way if one operator works on a section he/she (who am I fooling!), he doesn't overapply compared to the next guy.<p>----------<br>Phil Grande - Soundview Landscape Supply - http://members.aol.com/slsnursery<br>Ivy League Landscaping - http://members.aol.com/scagrider
Unfortunately, after all the calibrating you still have to eyeball the pattern coming out of your spreader. Moisture and other factors play a role in how you spread. Once you have your calibration correct, make a note of what it looks like coming out of the spreader. Watch it in sunlight and in the shade. As you go from job to job it should look the same unless you change the rate. Wind will screw it up as well.
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