Fertilizer equipment comes in several forms. Many pieces are designed specifically to apply various kinds of fertilizer. Other pieces that can be categorized as fertilizer equipment include mixing tanks, holding tanks and equipment specifically intended for use in applying anhydrous ammonia to agricultural land.
Dry forms of fertilizer are usually applied with a type of fertilizer equipment known as a spreader. Drop spreaders dispense fertilizer from the bottom of the holding container through a mechanism that regulates the rate of application. Broadcast spreaders throw the fertilizer in swathes around the equipment. Both drop and broadcast spreaders come in a huge range of styles and sizes ranging from hand-held units for small home gardens to giant pieces of equipment that are towed behind agricultural tractors.
Liquid fertilizers are applied using sprayers. The most common type of sprayer for use in yards and gardens is a tank small enough to be carried by hand or on the operator’s back. The fertilizer flows through a hose with a spray nozzle on the end. Fertilizer equipment for spraying on a larger scale normally has a row of nozzles mounted horizontally on a pipe that attaches to a tractor or other vehicle. These are called boom sprayers and also come in a range of sizes.
The tanks on fertilizer sprayers are pressurized. Small units usually have manual pumps to pressurize the tank while larger types create the pressure mechanically. Another essential part of sprayers is a mechanism for regulating the application flow.
Farmers who wish to mix their own dry fertilizer from raw materials or mix large quantities of liquid fertilizers can use agricultural mixing tanks. Mixing tanks are usually mounted on their side and turn on their axis to mix the materials placed inside. Some mixing tanks can be towed and the fertilizer dispensed directly from the mixing tank. Holding tanks for storing fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals are also available.
Specialized fertilizer equipment is necessary for use with anhydrous ammonia, a source of nitrogen for fertilizing large areas. Anhydrous ammonia is stored as a liquid under high pressure and becomes a gas as it moves into air at normal pressure. The liquid is very cold, caustic and corrosive, so it must be handled carefully. Storage tanks, hoses, nozzles and other parts of the spraying equipment used for anhydrous ammonia must be carefully designed and maintained. Anhydrous ammonia becomes a gas at normal pressure, so the fertilizer equipment injects it into the ground instead of spraying it on the surface.