SIMA’s Best Practices for Sustainable Salt Use recommends snow management companies establish a calibration policy and process for their material spreaders. Calibration should take place prior to the season, two to three times during the season, and/or any time a change is made to the equipment or the material. Calibrate application rates for the minimum required salt output based on weather variables. Download the Best Practices guidelines here
Processes to consider:
- Process takes two people: One to control the spreader and one to measure the output.
- Document the equipment being calibrated, the type of material, gate settings, auger/conveyor speeds, and amount of material. This will allow you to benchmark against future calibrations. Every spreader is different. Do not assume calibration settings for one machine is the same across the fleet.
- Incorporate your settings into preseason training programs.
Following is a simple method for calibration by determining material flow:
- Load material into hopper.
- Set gate setting.
- Start salter at fixed conveyer/auger speed.
- Make sure to catch all material in a bucket.
- Drop material for 60 to 90 seconds. Do not alter gate setting/auger speed.
- Weigh the bucket. Subtract the weight of the empty bucket from total weight to get weight of dispensed material
- Repeat the process for different gate settings and auger/conveyer speeds.
Calculate your results
Flow per minute = weight of material/time
120 lbs. dispensed in 90 seconds: 120 lbs./1.5 = 80 lbs./minute
Calibration is the first step toward efficient use of materials, but policy and training tied to ground speed of the equipment is also essential for managing applications in the field. Your efforts will not only contribute to sustainable salt use but also to help prevent wasting material and your money!
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