How to Use a Pull-Behind Spreader for Even Fertilizer Distribution?

Using a pull-behind spreader for even fertilizer distribution is a cost-effective and efficient way to maintain a healthy lawn.

Key Points:

  • Using a pull-behind spreader is a cost-effective and efficient way to maintain a healthy lawn.
  • Calibrating the spreader correctly is crucial to ensuring even fertilizer distribution and achieving the desired growth rates.
  • Pull-behind spreaders come in a variety of types and brands, and adjusting the spreader setting is easy with popular spreaders like drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders.

By choosing the right type of spreader and calibrating it correctly, you can achieve the best results for your lawn or garden. With this equipment, you can easily apply granular fertilizers, seeds, and other lawn care products in a uniform pattern, covering a large area quickly and efficiently.

Fertilizer spreaders come in a variety of types and brands, and choosing the best one can be confusing at times.

I have found out the hard way that using these machines correctly isn’t always the simplest thing, so below, I put together everything you need to know about pull-behind spreaders, including how to use them properly for even fertilizer distribution.

How to Calibrate Spreaders for Even Fertilizer Distribution?

Agri-Fab 85 lb. Tow Broadcast Spreader 45-0530 85 lb. Tow Broadcast Spreader, One Size, Black

If you already have a spreader, then the most important thing you can do is adjust your spreader to give you the application rate that is best for your lawn. Calibrating your spreader is crucial to ensuring the even distribution of the material you’re applying and the promised growth rates expected.

Follow these steps to calibrate your pull-behind spreader for even fertilizer distribution:

Application Rate

Determine the application rate of the material you’re using by checking the instructions on the product label. You will be looking for instructions on how many pounds of nitrogen you will be applying per 100 sqft of lawn.

This will give you the weight needed and will help you calibrate your equipment. A heavy application rate is needed in some cases, whereas a lighter one can be beneficial for young or struggling lawns. Choose the application rate that best suits your lawn’s individual needs from the range given. 

Create Measurable Area

Mark off an area of 1000 square feet as almost all fertilizer rates are given in pounds of product to 1000 sqft of turf.

If you do not have an area this large, you can divide by multiples of 10 until you have a rate applicable to your lawn sizes; for example, 10 lbs of product for 1000 sqft can become 1 lb of product for 100 sqft. Even small lawns need accurate and even fertilization, so calibration is not just for large properties. 

Start Calibration Test

Fill the hopper with the material and set the spreader to the recommended setting provided on the label. A full hopper is unlikely to empty during the test giving you an accurate way to measure the application rate.

Pull the spreader behind you for the length of the marked area in a slow controlled manner making sure the rotary spreader parts are throwing out even amounts of fertilizer. A clogged spreader hopper is an indication that the amounts of material are too large for smooth operation on that setting. 

Check Results

Once the end of the market area has been reached, weigh the remaining material in the hopper. Calculate the amount of material used to cover the 1000 square foot area and see if it matches the recommended rates on the product label.

You should have emptied enough of the hopper to correspond with the area of lawn fertilized and done so in a smooth and consistent manner with no areas uncovered or over-distributed. 

Make Adjustments

Popular spreaders like drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders usually have easy adjustment options that make changing the application rate a breeze. Adjust the spreader setting to achieve the correct application rate.

If you have more fertilizer in the hopper than is recommended, increase the application rate to spread more fertilizer every 1000 sqft. If there is no fertilizer left or it is far emptier than it should be, reduce the application rate by lessening the opening size using the attached dial or your spreader’s specific adjustment method. 

What are Pull-Behind Spreaders?

Agri-Fab 45-0463 130-Pound Tow Behind Broadcast Spreader , Black

Pull-behind spreaders are devices that attach to the back of a lawn tractor or ATV and distribute granular materials evenly over a lawn or garden. They are commonly used for fertilizing, seeding, weed control, and other lawn care applications.

There are two primary types of pull-behind spreaders: broadcast and drop spreaders.

Broadcast spreaders distribute materials in a broad swath across a wide area, while drop spreaders release the material straight down through a series of holes. There are many applications that are performed better with one or the other types of equipment, and they can be used in tandem to achieve the best lawn care routine possible.

Fertilizers and weed killers, for example, can be applied widely with a broadcast spreader where, as selective herbicides for specific areas of lawn and pest control products may be dumped accurately with little waste of materials. 

Type of Pull-Behind Spreader

The two types of pull-behind spreaders commonly used are drop and broadcast spreaders. While they have similar functions, getting a lawn care product where it is needed most, the way they go about it, and the specific circumstances in which to use them.

If you need to cover a large area quickly and don’t mind wasted product, then grab a broadcast spreader. If, on the other hand, you want to accurately apply fertilizer or weed killer where your plants need it and not disturb other areas, a drop spreader may be best.

Following are some of the pros and cons of each type of spreader. 

Spreader TypePros Cons
Broadcast SpreaderA broadcast spreader offers Faster application time and can cover large areas quickly, which makes it ideal for even distribution across large areasThese far-flinging spreaders are more likely to waste materials than other more accurate application methods and can be harder to control in tight spaces like between fences and houses or other natural corridors  
Drop SpreaderFor precise application, a drop spreader is best since it allows for accurate drops making it ideal for smaller, tight spaces ensuring the reduction of wasted materials  This precise method of distribution has a slower application time and can lead to uneven application if not calibrated correctly  

How do Pull-Behind Spreaders Work?

Pull-behind spreaders work by using a hopper to hold the material to be spread, which is then released through a rotating disk or series of holes.

Agri-Fab Broadcast Spreader Tow Style, 110 lb Capacity, Black

The spreader is calibrated to the correct rate for the material being applied, allowing for even distribution of the material over the desired area. The spreader is pulled behind a lawn tractor or ATV, and the speed at which it is pulled determines the rate of application.

Pulling the spreader slowly will toss the product nearer to the hopper, whereas a higher speed can toss material further and faster. 

Why is Even Distribution Important While Fertilizing?

The even distribution of fertilizer is essential to ensure that all areas of your lawn receive the nutrients they need to thrive. Uneven distribution can lead to patchy areas of your lawn, where some sections receive too much fertilizer while others don’t receive enough this can lead to an unhealthy and unattractive lawn doing the exact opposite of what you intended.

Make sure to calibrate your spreader after long-term storage or when using a different product from the last time you used the equipment to make sure you can use your pull-behind spreader for even fertilizer distribution. 

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