ATV Weed Sprayers
Safety and stability are paramount considerations for private, commercial and government applicators when choosing an ATV or UTV as a spray platform. Lee Shambeau, owner of 4Control Inc. in Menomonie, Wisconsin explains. “Our biggest concern is to reduce the potential for roll-over during application, so we purchase equipment with a wide wheel-base and low center of gravity.”
Although most of the federal agencies are transitioning from ATVs to UTVs, private and commercial applicators, and county weed districts use both types of equipment for noxious weed control. Rick Stellflug, Supervisor for Valley County Weed District in Glasgow, Montana says, “UTVs and ATVs are both useful in our weed program since ATVs can access places where we can’t go with the UTV, and are less expensive than UTVs to purchase.”
Kenny Keever, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Montana switched from ATVs to the 6-wheeled Polaris UTV for controlling weeds in the Havre Field Office and Missouri Breaks National Monument. “The UTVs carry a larger payload than an ATV, which means fewer trips back to the nurse truck. The UTV in conjunction with remote reels have increased our efficiency at least three-fold. The only real draw-back is turning radius with the 6-wheel UTV.”
Daniel Bertram, Weed Coordinator in Salmon, Idaho uses the Cub Cadet UTV along with ATVs. Bertram recommends that any UTV used for spraying should have a minimum payload capacity of 1, 000 lbs.
Overall, UTVs offer a wider, more stable platform than ATVs for herbicide application. Applicators can improve the safety of ATVs by selecting appropriate tank design, tank size, personal safety gear, and working within weight and operational limits of the ATV. The narrower wheelbase with ATVs may be an advantage on some sites such as eroded or constricted two-track roads.
Benefits of a UTV over ATV include more applicator safety features (windshield, roll bars, safety netting on doors, and seat belts), ability to carry two people, larger payload, easier to steer and spray when using a hand gun, and easier to maintain consistent ground speed because of a foot operated gas pedal (compared to ATVs that require operating the throttle with your thumb).
Some applicators report stability issues with UTVs going uphill because the weight on the back of the sprayer reduces the driver’s ability to steer properly. With both ATVs and UTVs, keeping weight within the payload rating for the vehicle is important to ensure safe operation and reduce potential for tipping and roll-over. Be sure that any UTV purchased is equipped with roll over protection (roll bar).
The following twelve ATV and UTV models are recommended for use as herbicide spray platforms by experienced applicators based on their stability, reliability, durability, and ease of use and repair. Additional features and comments from interviewees are included.