Linda Benedict, Parish, Richard L. | 4/19/2005 10:28:38 PM
In some situations, a hand-cranked spreader is more practical than a wheeled model for spreading lawn and garden fertilizer or pesticide granules, according to LSU AgCenter engineer Dr. Dick Parish.
Sometimes a wheeled spreader can be difficult or impossible to use in nurseries, beds of flowers and ornamentals and other restricted areas, Parish says.
"Hand- or strap-carried, hand-cranked spreaders are a viable option in such cases," he explains, adding, "But they should not be used whenever a wheeled spreader is practical."
The LSU AgCenter engineer notes that one specific time when a hand-cranked spreader is useful to a homeowner is for spreading fire ant bait on lawns.
"Even though a wheeled spreader is usually preferable for most lawn uses, most wheeled lawn spreaders cannot deliver the very low rates typically recommended for ant baits – sometimes as low as 1 pound per acre," Parish says. "On the other hand, many hand-cranked spreaders are capable of the low rates."
Since insects are mobile and will forage for the bait, the uniformity of a wheeled spreader is not necessary, and a hand-cranked spreader is a good choice for insect baits.
In general, Parish says, the pattern and rate from a hand-cranked spreader will be more subjective and operator-dependent than from a wheeled spreader. Many operator variables can affect the pattern and rate, including the angle at which the spreader is held (pitch, roll and yaw), cranking speed, height and walking speed, in addition to normal spreader variables relating to product characteristics and weather temperature and humidity.
Parish says several types of hand-cranked spreaders are available. The least-expensive type has a small hopper and is held with one hand while cranking with the other. Larger units are carried on a strap around the operator’s neck.
Two other variations include broadcasting granules both right and left or broadcasting primarily to one side.
"For some applications, it is easiest to walk along one side of a bed and throw material in only one direction," Parish says. "Using one of the one-sided spreaders and angling it somewhat in the predominant direction can often give a good one-sided pattern."
The hopper on a hand-cranked spreader may be a plastic container or a cloth bag. The pattern may or may not be adjustable, but there should always be a rate adjustment that may be combined with the on-off control.
"One of the most critical things you can do to get good coverage with a hand-cranked spreader is to be consistent," Parish says. "Always hold it at the same height and the same angles (remember, there are three angles to consider), crank at a consistent speed and walk at a constant speed."
He says the best way to obtain the pattern you seek, whether one-sided or two-sided, is to look at the material coming out of the spreader and then either change the pattern adjustment on the spreader or angle the spreader until the pattern looks right.
"Hand-cranked spreaders are useful for some special situations where wheeled spreaders cannot be used," Parish says. "Good results ultimately depend on the skill and consistency of the operator."
For related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.