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Podcast Ep. 119: ExactApply Nozzle Technology

4 Jun 2020  •  Tony Kramer

Back when ExactApply was first launched, John Deere shared that it was a system developed for producers and ag service producers who were seeking a higher level of control of product applications, improved application efficacy, and accuracy.

On our latest episode, Precision Ag experts Tony Kramer takes a deep-dive look at the technology that makes ExactApply such a valuable, comprehensive solution for today's growers.

Related: John Deere ExactApply™ retrofit kits available for existing 4-Series Sprayers

Related: 4 Primary Benefits of Spraying with John Deere ExactApply

Check out past episodes and guests – visit the  Episode Archive.


Each month, we share the latest in agriculture technology. Don’t miss an episode by subscribing to our podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Have a story idea or a precision ag topic we should highlight? Connect with us on social media:  Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter and connect with podcast host, Tony Kramer on Twitter at: @RDOTonyK.


Read the episode’s complete transcript here:

Tony: Welcome back to another episode of the podcast, this is episode number 119. Today we are going to take a deeper dive on the ExactApply sprayer nozzle system. Before we dive into the show, please take a moment to subscribe to this podcast if you haven't already. You can subscribe to the show on the many different podcasting apps that we're streaming this out to. Such as Apple's Podcast app, we've got it on Stitcher, Overcast, SoundCloud, as well as many others.

While you're out there, drop us a review. We'd love to hear what you think about the show. Lastly, make sure to follow RDO Equipment Company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and catch all of our latest videos on You1Tube. You can also follow me on Twitter @RDOTonyK. With that, let's dive into the show.

Tony: We are bringing you another episode of this new podcast structure. Again, we're waiting for name ideas.

Jake: We're still waiting on that.

Tony: We want to see what the people think. What should we call this podcast segment? With that, we don't have a name so we're just going to dive right into the show.

Jake: This is like episode 1.2 or whatever you want to say?

Tony: Is this episode 1 and the last one was zero or is this episode like 2 and that was episode 1?

Jake: It's like the chicken and the egg. Let's just dive in.

Tony: We'll dive into it.

Jake: Let's do it.

Tony: All right. We are here in or coming into the heat of application season, spraying. What I want to do is I want to talk a little bit more-- we've had some episodes talking about the 4-Series sprayers, taking in the cab stuff, up and down. I want to talk a little bit more on the ExactApply nozzle body itself. Huge piece of technology on these sprayers that John Deere did an amazing job with this component. Jake, I know you've been around the ExactApply system quite a bit, you are very knowledgeable on it and how everything works. What makes that nozzle body so different than this standard 5-Way that I'm holding onto?

Jake: Also, to paint your picture we're literally sitting here on the backlot in Moorhead, Minnesota. We're staring at the equipment line right now. We're in the element. We're not just sitting in an office and, hey, we're going to-- we're in the weeds.

Tony: We are in the element. We're not holed up in some office and some back corner. We don't have a fancy studio.

Jake: We don't.

Tony: We don't need a fancy studio.

Jake: Who needs that? If you've got to pick up cab and a windshield. That's where you get it done.

Tony: A fancy studio just locks us down. I like our mobility.

Jake: That's it. That's right. Literally, in our hands, Tony's got the 5-Way nozzle body, the conventional style. Hey, it's done a great service to us for many, many years. The conventional sprayer isn't going away anytime soon. When we look over the course of the last let's say 15 years of application, we have seen pulse width modulation come on the scene in a big way. We've seen it through the cab stand systems, the AIM command, the AIM command PRO, AIM command FLEX. We have seen the HotGuy. We've seen everybody's concept idea, their take on pulse width modulation in the sprayer.

Then, the boys here at Electronic Solutions in Fargo were tasked with a new idea of, "What if we did our own? Instead of 10 hertz pulsing like everybody else, can we make it 15? Can we up the anti a little bit? Instead of being able to pulse out of one tip, can you pulse out of two? Are there some things that we can do?" ExactApply takes that whole new, or what is now looking like a conventional pulse width modulation system where you have the centralized hub, and it's like, "Let's throw the rate controller, let's throw the entire brains of the operation all along the entire boom instead of having it all in one place. Let's have each of them be smart in a sense."

Each nozzle body has a circuit board. These things weigh a substantial amount comparatively, I want to say it's several pounds apiece. "Let's have two solenoids instead of one. Let's have the ability inside the cab to switch between A, B. Run a conventional mode, run it kind of like that HiPro Select Duo system. Let's throw some of those crazy components and things that guys have been wanting and asking for and let's see if we can make it happen." And here we are.

Tony: I want to ask you one question. You made the comment about being able to change A, B nozzle selection in the cab right under your display. One of the most common questions I get-- if you have not seen the ExactApply nozzle body, you can Google it, It's there. It looks very unique. It looks like a turret, like a Tommy gun or a revolver bullet chamber. The most common question I get is, does that have the ability to rotate to the different nozzles automatically?

Jake: No, but you can switch between the front or the rear nozzle at any given time. Basically, you have the ability to control two nozzles at once. It takes a lot of electricity to do what it does and to add an additional system on top of it, on top of an already larger alternator, already larger and more built out system, I don't think that a person would want to pay the amount of money it would have cost to allow that. That is not a part of the system.

Tony: I would probably agree with you. The nozzle bodies themselves, the new ExactApply nozzle bodies, they're not an inexpensive nozzle body. There's a lot of technology, a lot of brains in each one of those. You talked about the pulse width modulations are kind of the meat and potatoes and the gold star of that ExactApply system. One of my favorite parts about that is you can still run it like a traditional sprayer. That's one of the unique things. Is you can run it pulse width modulation or you can run it in conventional mode.

I know you have a very good analogy on running it in conventional mode with A, B autoselect. Explain that. I probably just extremely confused the listeners on A, B autoselect. Explain that and your analogy of how that works in conventional pressurized spraying mode.

Jake: I think of it as an automatic transmission. When I say automatic, I truly mean automatic. You're not going in there and changing the gears. You literally shift that truck into drive and you go. It shifts through the gears accordingly based on the RPM that's preset. Once you get to a certain RPM, it will drop into the next gear, it will drop down and increase in RPM until you get to a certain rate, and again it will drop back down into the next gear.

It does the exact same thing, and it's actually a system that was developed by HiPro Pentair and was used quite extensively. It's very popular in Europe. The electronics that we have on the system allow you to do the exact same thing. The concept being instead of one nozzle that's going to seemingly cover every single speed from 5 all the way upwards of 20 miles an hour.

Because no one single conventional nozzle would be able to do that, what if we broke it down and say instead of running an 0.5 you run say an 0.2 and an 0.3? As you increase in pressure, and you're building in pressure as you increase in speed, once you reach a certain threshold, let's say it's 40 PSI, let's shift it down to an 0.3. That will drop your pressure back down. Just by increasing your orifice size from and 0.2 to an 0.3. We're going to drop that pressure down and we're going to increase, we're going to continue through our speed increase and then basically, once you reach the next threshold say 40 PSI again, let's open both valves up and we're going to drop down to 20 PSI again.

Through the rest of your application, and of course, that's going to differ between how fast you like to run and how large your tips are and what your thresholds are, but seemingly you now have, without having to do anything more than just increase the speed-- Increasing your hydro handle, pushing that sucker forward, you can now have the exact same droplet size. Have the exact same application all the way from 5 miles an hour or crawl all the way upwards of 15, 20 miles an hour.

Tony: For those of you unfamiliar with how product application and how our sprayer works, speaking in a conventional term, just like this traditional five-way nozzle body I'm using or have in my hand, or running the ExactApply system in conventional mode, no matter what nozzle you have on that nozzle body, it all works off of speed, rate, and pressure. The more pressure you have or the faster you go, the more pressure you need, the smaller droplet size you're going to get. The slower you go, the lower your pressure is, the larger droplet size you're going to get.

When we talk product application and we talk droplet size and nozzle selection and all of that, that is where the ExactApply system with the conventional-- conventionable?

Jake: It's quite conventionable.

Tony: [chuckles] Conventional A, B auto select. Is that what it's called, A, B autoselect?

Jake: Yes. Its A, B autoselect.

Tony: There we go. I win for today. Being able to do that gives you a broader range of the correct droplet size that you want. You can go slower, it's going to use that smaller nozzle. You can go faster, it's going to use both nozzles. That's just one of the really cool features about that. Is you don't have to run it in pulsing.

Jake: You don't.

Tony: Why would I want to run a sprayer in pulsing? I don't want to leave skips in the field, Jake.

Jake: Amen.

Tony: When you say pulsing, what do you mean?

Jake: Well, it's literally as you described. Pulsing is that on-off functionality, that's what's taking place.

Tony: You said earlier, you said something about 10 Hertz and 15 Hertz and I think a little bird once told me something about 30 Hertz. What are all those numbers and what is this pulsing? How is that accomplished?

Jake: When we think about Hertz it's times that something occurs per second. So 30 Hertz, 30 times per second. 10 Hertz, 10 times per second. What that is, is basically the opening and closing of that valve. Is it opening and closing 10 times a second or is it opening or closing 30 times a second? Or 15 in the case where we have ExactApply has two 15 Hertz solenoids? We've seen this all across equipment for a number of years. PWM valves, it's not anything that's new. We're the exact same concept, we're just doing it with water across the boom.

For the exact same reasons that you would have pulse width modulation in other places in hydraulic lines or in engines, we're wanting to maintain either a consistent flow, consistent pressure, and we see all of those exact same things. We have the ability to control pressure. We have the ability to control, in this case, that pressure translates to droplet size. By increasing or decreasing our duty cycle, which is how many times that we have that valve open over the course of those 30 seconds or 30 times per a second, 10 times per second, or 15 times per second, that's going to basically create our pattern or create our flow rate.

Where say you have an O8 size tip which would be a white tip, 0.8 gallons per minute at 40 PSI and we're going to run that at 75% duty cycle is the output of an 06. That was one of the most complicated things. It's not until you start really thinking about what it's relating to, what it's really talking about. We're going to get the droplet size of an 08 but we're going to get the flow rate or the true output of an 06. We're going to be able to maintain our target pressures and the machine is going to accelerate or decelerate that flow accordingly based on what we're doing.

For increasing in speed we're going to see that duty cycle jump up. If we're going to decrease in speed we're going to see that duty cycle fall down back to a certain level, but we're going to maintain our pressure on our flow accordingly.

Tony: That's what I think is neat about this system. Is it's got brains, it does what it needs to-- you tell it, hey, I want you to spray at 40 PSI, which I'm running a whatever nozzle and the 40 PSI is going to give me this droplet size, this rate. It doesn't matter what speed I'm running. I could be running 4 miles an hour, I could be running 14 miles an hour, and I'm still going to get that same application pattern as what I would at either speed. The cool part again is that I can run it in that mode, pulse width modulation, or I can run it in conventional mode. There is no one way or the other when you buy this system.

Jake: That's right.

Tony: Again, if you're confused or you don't really understand the system, it is a very technologically advanced nozzle body. One of the things that I hear a lot of people say, Jake, is, "I get pulse width modulation. It's going to control my pressure, it's going to control my flow, everything like that. Nozzle selection doesn't matter for me anymore."

Jake: I think for a number of different applicators that's probably the case. One nozzle will probably get you the full range. When you only have one nozzle a conventional and a pulsing nozzle like most systems up until now, in most cases you're going to find something that's going to compromise. You're going to give up a little of one side or the other. You're going to have a little bit finer droplet here or you're going to have a little bit coarser droplet than you probably always want to be. You don't want to have to go up and down the entire sprayer and change out 72 nozzles every single time you want to switch over from running Roundup to running Liberty.

The cool thing about this, and I also think it's the beauty and the curse of these types of systems, is that nozzle selection actually becomes even more critical. Really if you don't have a full understanding of your application methods and the application itself that you're trying to make. You've had a 5-way nozzle body or 3-way nozzle body for a number of years say for example, and you're used to changing it over. "I am going to run fertilizer, I need a little bit larger orifice. Hey, I'm going to go run Roundup today." Or, "Maybe I want to go fog things on and I want to get really, really good coverage." Up until now that's what you've been doing.

You'll go down the boom and you'll turn all 72 or all 80 or however many nozzle bodies, you'll turn them all and then you'll go make your application and you'll turn them again and turn them again. What we're trying to do here, and it's the exact same thing, is that nozzle selection is just as critical. We want to make sure, because we're going to maintain the consistent droplet size, we want to make sure that droplet size is right for what we're spraying.

Likewise not just because we're going to have the ability to-- we're going to maintain that pressure and maintain that speed but you're going to have an even larger range. You're going to be able to go from 5 all the way to 25 miles an hour. You want to make sure that you have the orifice size that's correct, that's going to give you the output that you're looking for. That relationship of orifice size, droplet size, speed, pressure, once you're locked in, you're locked in. Honestly, I've told a number of people that nozzles will make or break your experience with this system.

Tony: I would completely agree with that and that's why I led you into that question.

Jake: I appreciate that.

Tony: The nozzle selection is still very important. You may be able to get by in certain situations with one or just a few nozzles, but nozzle selection and the understanding of the system is still very important. Because it is a different animal than this 5-way that I'm holding in my hands here. Hopefully, what talked about here for the past 15 minutes or so gave you a better understanding or a more deeper understanding of the ExactApply nozzle body. Again, this is our first go at this whole podcast structure. Hopefully, we gave you a little bit of information on the nozzle. Jake, if you've got anything more you wanted to share about it? I know you're pretty passionate about those nozzles.

Jake: We could talk all day. [chuckles].

Tony: See, that's the thing. I agree. To you listeners if I wouldn't stop Jake, this episode alone would probably be a couple of hours worth because I know he really enjoys talking about these. He does have a very deep understanding of the nozzle body itself. He's been involved in a lot of conversations with customers that have bought those systems. With that being said, I think that wraps up this episode. If there's any topic or any product or piece of technology that you listeners would like Jake and I to do a deeper dive on. Again, we've talked about ExactApply before. We've talked about the four series sprayers in the past in our other segment of the podcast. Keep in mind that's kind of a higher level, it's a very general explanation of the systems. Jake and I here hopefully going forward we can do a little deeper dive in that same 15 to 20-minute timeframe. If there's something you'd like us to talk about, drop us a line. My Twitter is @RDOTonyK.

Tony: Thank you for listening. Tune in again next time.

Tony Kramer

Tony Kramer is the Product Manager of Planting Technology and a Certified Crop Advisor at RDO Equipment Co. He is also the host of the Agriculture Technology podcast. If you have any questions for Tony or would like to be a guest on the podcast, you can find him on X at @RDOTonyK.

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