All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs/ 4 Wheelers) and Utility Vehicles (UTVs/ Side by Side) have become essential tools for land managers working in range, prairie or forest lands. With diverse models and brands on the market right now, how do you select vehicles and application systems that are best for you?
In April 2014, twenty-six Techline readers participated in a survey about their preferred ATV/UTV and application systems. The results of the survey may prove useful as you determine the ideal platform for your fieldwork.
Important Note: We did not ask reviewers to compare different vehicles or application systems, but rather to evaluate the equipment they currently use. This article does not endorse any one brand of ATV or UTV, or brand of spray equipment.
Survey respondents were split equally between using ATVs and UTVs. Although most federal agencies are transitioning toward UTVs out of safety concerns, many private and commercial applicators, along with county weed districts use both types of equipment for noxious weed control. Some respondents also reported using trucks, backpack sprayers, hand cans and commercial sprayers to supplement their off-road applicators.
Survey responses highlighted unique advantages and disadvantages for ATVs or UTVs as herbicide spray platforms.
Polaris was the most-used brand of ATV/UTV among our survey respondents. Overall, one respondent recognized this brand in producing, “good, serviceable equipment for off road.”
For UTVs, readers recommended the Polaris Ranger 900, Ranger 6 x 6, and Ranger 700 because these models are reliable, durable, comfortable, and stable.
Recommended ATV models include Ranger 300, 450, 800, Sportsman 500, and Sportsman 850 for reasons similar to those cited for UTV models. However one reviewer felt that ATVs are generally not safe or suitable for carrying more than a 25 gallon tank unless the vehicle has rear suspension.
Yamaha was another popular brand, with four of the five respondents recommending ATVs and UTVs from this company. Readers recommended the Mule 410 and Rhino because these models are easy to use, dependable, and durable. The Rhino is “one of the narrowest [UTVs] on the market to get into those tight places.” Although the Yamaha 450 Grizzly is also easy to use, dependable, and durable, the reviewer did not recommend it unless newer models include power steering.
Four respondents used and recommended John Deere UTVs for off road work including the Gator for its dependability, versatility, safety features (roll cage and seatbelt), comfort and ease of use.
Three respondents recommended Kawasaki models including the Kawasaki Prairie 300 (ATV) and Teryx (UTV) for their size and ease of use.
Twenty respondents either wrapped the hose around the herbicide tank or other fixture on ATV/UTV (11), or used a hand crank hose reel (9).
While shorter hoses can typically be managed without a reel, one reviewer still believes reels are unnecessary and “just add complications and weight”, even when carrying a 150-foot long hose. In contrast, another reviewer using the “wrap” method complains that the hose often comes undone and becomes tangled in brush.
Among hand crank hose reel users (9), the Hanney PW2 is a popular choice (4). Respondents reported that this model is the best quality for the dollar, works well, and is adaptable. Other reviewers are content using other reel models (e.g., Cox Reel, a local North Dakota-made product, and unspecified make/model). One Nifty Fifty Sprayer Reel user reports that this model is “hard to crank up; no bearings; just steel on steel.”
Survey respondents cited a wide variety of tank sizes, shapes, and brands. Makes and models mentioned include: CR-EZ, Ace Rotomold, Jack Rabbit Pro (Shaben Industries), Runnings Farm and Fleet, Northstar, John Deere for Gator, Nifty-Fifty, Raven, PECO, Superior Industries E-Z Rider, custom builds for Rhino and Teryx. Most provided positive reviews of their tanks citing stability, convenience, dependability, affordability, and ease of installation and use as strong points. One reviewer reported the Ag Enterprises 10 gallon square tank is a “plumbing nightmare”.
All respondents gave good reviews and would recommend the nozzles used with their herbicide spray platforms. Popular types, makes, and models include boombusters and 120 degree TeeJet fan nozzles. See this article on Understanding Performance of Your ATV-Mounted Boomless Spray Nozzles for more information.
Green Garde (7), TeeJet’s GunJet series (6) and Spray Systems (3) are popular brands among respondents, for the same reasons weed professionals recommended them in the article Selecting ATV or UTV Herbicide Spray Platforms for Wildland and Natural Area Weed Management.
NOTE: Several herbicide applicators have been diagnosed with ‘trigger thumb’ (Stenosing tenosynovitis) or ligament damage to the thumb possibly caused by excessive use, and/or stiff spring pressure with some handgun applicators. READ MORE >