To say that UK farmers have a wide choice of sprayers is something of an understatement – at the 2012 LAMMA show alone there were at least 25 makes on display. But despite what sounds like some fierce competition, Horsch is convinced that there is a market for its Leeb sprayers in the UK.

Horsch is a family-owned German firm that is best known for its drills and cultivation equipment. The arrival of a sprayer in its line-up came about from a strengthening of commercial ties between Horsch and fellow German company Leeb, which has been building sprayers since 1999.

Until now, Leeb has concentrated almost exclusively on its home market. But the association with Horsch (which already sells into many export markets) now means that it will target countries as diverse as the UK, France, Russia, Ukraine and the US. At the moment the company sells 25 self-propelled sprayers and 80-100 trailed sprayers every year, but the plan is to double that figure next year.

• Sprayer range

Three sprayers will be coming to the UK – the trailed GS6000 and GS8000 sprayers and the PT270 self-propelled model. Horsch UK reckons that 60% of sales will be GS6000s, with the rest divided equally between the bigger trailed model and the self-propelled machine.

The PT270 is definitely a high-end machine, with its 270hp Deutz engine, 8000-litre stainless steel tanks and big 520×85 R46 wheels. That unusually large size of wheel gives masses of traction, especially in wet conditions, points out Theo Leeb, and the big tank means long gaps between fill-ups.

And while most UK sprayers use hydraulic axles, Horsch Leeb opts instead for mechanical ones. The simple drivetrain involved makes for good fuel consumption (typically 0.8 litres/ha in eco mode), points out the company, as well as easy hill climbing and road speeds of 50kph. Moreover the big wheels give a 90cm clearance which is enough even for tall rape crops.

Taking the mechanical route does limit track widths to either 2m or 2.25m, he concedes, so contractors buying the machine would need to get their customers to move to compatible widths.

However, the company is working on a high-clearance hydrostatic drive model for taller maize and sunflower crops in the US and Eastern Europe. Called the PT350, it will have 1.4-1.6m clearance and go on sale in 2014. Booms up to 36m are available and typical cost is 250,000 euros.

Leeb sprayers is unusual in using a 25cm nozzle-to-nozzle spacing rather than the usual 50cm, pointing out that closer nozzles give more uniform coverage. The company says that its boom suspension system also means that a 40-45cm boom height is feasible in most conditions.

The ability to thoroughly clean out the pipework on its sprayers is also a feature that Leeb makes much of in its home market. A separate pump is used to suck water from the clean water tank to clean out the pipework, a task it can do repeatedly. The tank can be filled in eight minutes, too.

A steering axle is available on both the trailed and s-p sprayers. It’s an option that’s likely to appeal to 70% of UK buyers, says Horsch’s sprayer manager Rasso Schatz.

GS6000 and GS8000
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With 6,000 and 8,000-litre tanks respectively, the Horsch Leeb trailed machines are also high-workrate machines. Many of the features are the same as on the PT270 and the 5.25m length of the GS8000 makes it pretty manoeuvrable. UK prices are to be announced.

This is the second Horsch-Leeb PT270 sprayer that this busy 4000ha (10,000-acre) machinery-sharing group near Straubing has run, according to manager Robert Engelberger. Main crops are cereals, potatoes and sugar beet. With a total of 86 different fields to deal with, machinery is kept very busy – none more so than the sprayer.

Much of the work involves putting on liquid fertiliser, mixed up in a 60,000 litre tank back at base. The boom is a 28m unit rather than the more typical 36m one because some of the fields are pretty small.

He reckons that the tall 520×85 R46 wheels give a good combination of ride quality and height and he likes the small touches on the sprayer like the special jets that keep the lights clean for the frequent night work.