Farmers concerned about the impact on end-of-season tramline depth of repeated sprayer passes, as well as those wanting to take advantage of GPS RTK technology and put tramlines back in the same place, would appear to be driving increased interest in lightweight sprayers.
Key drivers include recent wet springs in 2013 and 2014 and the increased number of arable field passes being made with crop protection products, particularly to counter fungal diseases, suggests Keith Wood, managing director of Alanco Agricultural, which makes the range of Sprayranger self-propelled sprayers.
“We are fielding a lot of enquiries from farmers who are using RTK guidance technology to place their tramlines when drilling a crop, and then put them in exactly the same place in subsequent years,” he says.
“In many cases they are often having difficulty preventing them from becoming deep ruts by the end of the season, particularly if the spring has been wet. Each pass with a sprayer is creating a deeper impression in the soil.
“This is especially true if they are using conventional self-propelled machines, even of only 3,000 litres. Many of these can weigh six or seven tonnes or more before they are even loaded with liquid fertiliser or water and chemical.
“But farmers who are putting down new tramlines and ripping them up each year are also concerned, particularly as keeping soils in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC) is a requirement of the Basic Payment Scheme that requires them to meet environmental rules as a requirement for subsidy payments. Heavy tramline traffic can reduce water ingress into the soil and increase run-off, which is not only against GAEC requirements, but is detrimental to a farm’s long-term soil preservation.”
The rise in demand is being largely driven by the fact farmers are looking more closely at the weights of comparable 3,000-litre/24m sprayers, believes Mr Wood. For example, the full specification version of the Sprayranger, which has a capacity of 3,000 litres and a maximum boom size of 24m, weighs 4,560kg unladen, making it 1.25-1.5t lighter than some comparable units.
This is despite the machine now being equipped with a larger five-cylinder Ford engine producing 173hp at 3,500rpm and 474Nm maximum torque at 1,500rpm. It also now has a cruise control feature which allows forward speed to be maintained at any fixed point from 10-35km/hr.
Sprayrangers specified with 24m booms can now be specified with independent lift for either boom side, offering 0.75m of lift at the boom ends. When ordered as such, these units benefit from a beefed-up centre-frame, upgraded inner boom sections deepened by 100mm (4in), and higher gauge steel throughout for greater strength. Twin hydraulic pumps drive the spray pump separately from the boom lift and tilt functions, to avoid delay to the latter operations when the pump is running.
“Although this winter and spring have not been as wet as those in 2013 and 2014, this type of machine is attracting an increasing amount of interest,” says Mr Wood.Google+