Flow Meter Sizing

Often, application issues are due to improper flow meter selection. There is NOT a one-size-fits-all. To ensure accuracy, you need the right-sized meter. In aerial applications, selecting a flow rate that falls within an optimal range is crucial rather than being at the extreme low or high end of the flow range. This is because operating at these extremes can lead to various issues and inefficiencies:

Low Flow Range:

  • Ineffective Coverage: When operating at the low end of the flow range, the application may not provide adequate coverage. This can result in insufficient distribution of pesticides, fertilizers, or other materials, leading to uneven crop protection or nutrient delivery.
  • Risk of Drift: Low flow rates can make the droplets produced by the sprayer more susceptible to wind drift, potentially causing chemicals to be carried away from the target area and harming non-target crops, wildlife, or the environment.

High Flow Range:

  • Wastage: Operating at the high end of the flow range can lead to over-application, resulting in the wastage of expensive chemicals or resources. Over-application can also contribute to environmental concerns, including soil and water contamination.
  • Environmental Impact: Excessive flow rates can lead to environmental issues, as chemicals may run off fields and into nearby water bodies, causing pollution.

It’s essential to select a flow rate that balances efficient coverage and resource conservation to optimize aerial applications. This typically involves choosing a flow rate that provides the necessary coverage without over-applying materials. Factors such as the crop type, weather conditions, and the specific chemicals being applied should be considered when determining the ideal flow rate.

Additionally, modern aerial application equipment often includes adjustable flow rate controls and precision technology to help pilots optimize flow rates for specific conditions and achieve accurate and efficient application. These controls allow for real-time adjustments for factors like wind speed, altitude, and field conditions.

In summary, finding the correct flow rate within a practical and efficient range is crucial for effective and responsible aerial applications, ensuring that crops receive the necessary treatment while minimizing waste and environmental impact.

Satloc offers sizing calculators to help aerial applicators narrow down the size of flow meters that will work for their application needs. These are general guidelines used at Satloc when calculating flow meter size. These guidelines are only starting points and are not absolutes. Ultimately, pilots must determine the best flow meter size. 

Imperial Measurement System*

Flow Meter Table
Flow Range (Gallons Per Minute) Flow Meter Size
60 to 600 Gallons Per Minute 3”
30 to 300 Gallons Per Minute 2”
15 to 180 Gallons Per Minute 1½”
5 to 50 Gallons Per Minute 1”
2 to 15 Gallons Per Minute ¾”
.75 to 7.5 Gallons Per Minute ½”

Metric Measurement System*

Flow Meter Table
Flow Range (Liters Per Minute) Flow Meter Size
227 to 2271 Liters Per Minute 3”
113.5 to 1135.6 Liters Per Minute 2”
57 to 681 Liters Per Minute 1½”
19 to 189 Liters per minute 1”
7.5 to 57 Liters per minute ¾”
2.8 to 28 Liters per minute ½”

Valve Sizing

Valve sizing is a crucial aspect of aerial application system. The sizing of the valve is equally, if not more, important than the flow meter sizing. Valves control the flow of the liquid being sprayed from the aircraft. Properly sized valves allow for precise flow rate control, which is essential for achieving the desired application rate. This ensures that the right amount of pesticides, fertilizers, or other materials is delivered to the target area.

Satloc highly recommends using the same bore size valve as the turbine meter if the operator will mainly utilize the middle of the GPM range of the meter. If the operator is applying rates towards the bottom of the range of the meter, we recommend going down a valve size to prevent porpoising.

Matching Valve Bore Size to Turbine Meter for Middle-of-Range Usage

When operators anticipate primarily using flow rates within the middle range of the turbine meter’s capabilities, it is advantageous to select a valve with a bore size that corresponds to the same size as the turbine meter.

This alignment in valve and meter bore sizes ensures optimal flow control and accuracy during application. The coordinated sizing allows for precise flow regulation, facilitating consistent and uniform distribution of materials over the target area.

By matching the valve bore size to that of the turbine meter, you minimize potential discrepancies and achieve a streamlined flow path, mitigating turbulence or pressure fluctuations that could otherwise impact the application’s precision.

Downsizing Valve for Lower-End Flow Rates to Prevent Porpoising

In scenarios where operators intend to apply materials at the lower end of the turbine meter’s flow rate range, it is prudent to select a valve with a slightly smaller bore size than the meter.

This adjustment prevents a phenomenon known as “porpoising,” which occurs when the valve struggles to maintain a steady flow rate at the lower extreme. Porpoising can lead to erratic and undesirable fluctuations in flow, compromising application accuracy and consistency.

By opting for a smaller valve bore size under these circumstances, you enhance the valve’s control capabilities at lower flow rates. This helps mitigate the challenges associated with maintaining a stable flow, ensuring a smoother and more controlled application process.