Summarizing the pressure/spray relationship

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Pressure is integral to nozzle performance. Reducing hydraulic pressure reduces nozzle flow rate, increases median droplet size, and typically reduces spray fan angle. Increasing pressure increases nozzle flow rate, reduces median droplet size and typically increases spray fan angle.

You can watch this Exploding Sprayer Myths video to learn how pressure, boom height and nozzle spacing interact. In extreme cases, too low a pressure can collapse the fan angle enough to reduce overlap and compromise coverage, as explained in this video.

Pressure affects all aspects of spray quality. Using a flat fan nozzle as an example, a lower pressure increases the median droplet diameter, reduces the droplet count, reduces the nozzle rate and typically reduces the spray angle. Alternately, a higher pressure decreases the median droplet diameter, increases the droplet count, increases the nozzle rate and typically increases the spray angle. Always plan to operate a nozzle in the middle of its recommended range so it can handle small changes in pressure during spraying (such as from a rate controller, or changing PTO speeds on hilly terrain).
Using a flat fan nozzle as an example, a lower pressure increases the median droplet diameter, reduces the droplet count, reduces the nozzle flow rate and typically reduces the spray angle. Alternately, a higher pressure decreases the median droplet diameter, increases the droplet count, increases the nozzle flow rate and typically increases the spray angle.

Always plan to operate a nozzle in the middle of its recommended range so it can handle small changes in pressure during spraying (such as from a rate controller, or when changing PTO speeds on hilly terrain). Don’t operate an air induction nozzle below 2 bar (30 psi), even if it’s rated lower in the manufacturer’s nozzle table. Most AI nozzles perform best at >4 bar (60 psi).

Pressure can be used on-the-fly to make minor changes to flow rate while spraying. This is how rate-controllers work to compensate for changes in ground speed and maintain a constant overall rate per planted area.

However, pressure should not be used to make significant changes to flow rate. It takes a 4x change in pressure for a 2x change in flow rate, so it’s inefficient. Operating pressures at the upper or lower limit of a nozzle’s range can have undesirable impacts on nozzle wear, median droplet size and swath uniformity.

For a more indepth discussion of the relationship between spray pressure and nozzle performance, and how rate controllers work, check out this article.

It is far better to simply switch nozzles when a significant change in flow rate is required.