How To Calibrate A Broadcast Spreader

How To Calibrate A Broadcast Spreader


Once you’ve determined the type and the amount
of fertilizer that your lawn needs, we need to get those nutrients down to the soil so
they can work their magic. The most common method of spreading fertilizer
is a broadcast spreader. To make sure that you’re getting the proper
amount of fertilizer down most effectively and efficiently, you first need to calibrate
your spreader. Here’s what you’ll need: a broadcast spreader,
your fertilizer, a bucket to weigh your fertilizer in, a push broom, a measuring wheel or tape
measure, a scale, preferably accurate to the ounce, landscape flags or marking paint to
mark off your test area, and of course, a calculator. You’ll need to determine how much fertilizer
you need to cover a 1,000 square foot area. Typically, you will find the instructions
on the manufacturer’s bag. You can also check out our fertilizer calculation
video for detailed calculation instructions. It’s also important to calibrate your spreader
with the actual fertilizer that you will be using since variations in the size of the
material can effect your results. Step one in the process is to measure the
effective swath width of your spreader. Since the spreader is wheel-driven, variations
in walking speed will effect the spread of your application. A person with a faster walking pace will have
a much wider swath then with someone with a slower pace. The important part of this is to be consistent. You’ll need a hard surface like a driveway
or a parking lot to set up your test area. Testing on a solid surface allows you to see
where the material falls and makes it easier to clean up. It’s important to sweep up the material after
you are done to prevent possible run-off into the local water supply or staining of the
surface. Add enough fertilizer to the spreader hopper
to allow you to make a short run down the test area. Set the spreader to the middle setting and
start spreading at your normal walking speed. You’ll only need to walk a short distance
for this part of the calibration, just enough where you can clearly see a consistent swath
on the ground. Now measure the effective width of that swath,
that’s the area between the two points where the fertilizer begins to thin out in the pattern
and make a note of that result. When you eventually spread the material the
thin areas on each side should overlap as you make each pass. This will help prevent the striping that can
occur if this is done incorrectly. Divide 1,000 by the width of your swath, this
will give you the length of the run needed for the next part of the test. We have a 10 foot swath so for our test we’ll
need a 100 foot run to equal 1,000 square feet. To simplify our test, we’ll cut that distance
in half to 50 feet and multiply our final result by 2. Measure off your test area and mark your start
and finish lines. Now you’re ready to determine how much material
the spreader puts down over a given distance. Start by weighing out a few pounds of fertilizer
using your bucket and scale, enough to fill half the hopper should be sufficient. Make a note of the weight and be sure to subtract
the weight of the bucket. With your spreader still on the middle setting,
begin your test run on the area that you marked off earlier. Be sure to give yourself enough space to get
up to speed before you reach the starting line. Once you hit that line open up the hopper
and continue at a consistent pace until you reach the finish line. Be sure to close the hopper as you pass over
that finish line. To determine how much material was distributed,
you’ll need to weigh the remaining fertilizer in the hopper and subtract that total from
the original amount. Compare this number to the manufacturer’s
suggested output. If your number was higher or lower than that
you’ll need to adjust your spreader’s output and retest until you reach that desired application
rate. For example, if you spread 4 pounds of material
over a 1,000 square feet and the manufacturer suggest 5 then you need to increase your spreader
setting on your fertilizer spreader to get more material out over that area. Now that your spreader is calibrated, you
can be confident that your turf grass is being fertilized both effectively and efficiently. If you have any questions, please stop by
one of our local Ewing branches or visit us at ewingirrigation.com.

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