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Different Kinds of Agricultural Sprayers

By Jay Golberg ; Updated September 21, 2017

Agricultural sprayers are used to apply fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides to plants. They are available in a variety of configurations, depending on how large an area is sprayed, as well as the type of liquid being dispensed. However, all sprayers have of a holding tank, a pump and an application nozzle.

Hand-Held Sprayers

Hand-held sprayers hold 1 or 2 gallons of liquid and have the pumping mechanism at the top of the container. They are used for smaller areas or small applications. They are lightweight and easy to use for the beginner. The spray nozzle is attached to the end of an application wand, held by the operator and connected to the tank with a rubber tube.

Backpack Sprayer

Backpack sprayers hold up to 4 gallons of liquid and give the operator the ability to continue applying pressure to the liquid by pumping the pump mechanism with one hand while holding the application wand with the other. A backpack sprayer is strapped to the back of the operator. The pumping mechanism and the rubber hose attached to the application wand extend from the bottom of the holding tank so and are easily accessible to the operator.

Pull-Behind Sprayers

For bigger jobs, a pull-behind sprayer is used. It can be pulled behind a tractor or an all-terrain vehicle. Instead of a hand application wand, a boom extends out of one or two sides of the back of the vehicle and multiple nozzles apply the liquid as needed. The pressure is created from a mechanical pump within the sprayer, which is powered by a battery or by attaching to the vehicle's electrical system. A remote control or device attached to a control line is used to control the flow and spray.

Aerial Applicator

When multiple acreage is treated, an aerial applicator or small plane is equipped with tanks and uses booms with multiple nozzles, mounted to the underside of the plane, to spray the crops. This is also known as crop dusting. The plane sprays one section of the field, often working around power lines and other structures, then turns around and makes another pass to cover the entire crop area. The pressure in the tanks is from a mechanical pump built into the pumping mechanism, and powered by the plane's electrical system. The pilot controls the spray using a remote control or an electrical device.

Self-Propelled Agricultural Sprayer

The self-propelled agricultural sprayer is self-contained. It has an engine, tanks, application booms and all machinery needed to maneuver around the field and make the desired applications. It may include hand wands that can be used to spray crops, such as grapes, as the self-propelled sprayer rides up and down the rows of crops. The pressure in the holding tanks is created with a mechanical pump. The self-propelled sprayer uses human control to maneuver the sprayer around the field.


About the Author


Jay Golberg is a certified Texas nursery professional and professional project manager. He has 30 years of business and farming experience and holds bachelor's degrees in English writing from St. Edward's University and finance from Lamar University.