Worcestershire contractor David Gouldbourne knows a thing or two about spraying.

When he started out in 1987 he built his own self-propelled machine and 27 years later he’s spraying and apply granular products to more than 8,000 acres a year.
 
During that time he’s experimented with different machines, but Bateman has become his brand of choice.
 
His 14-month-old, 4,000-litre RB35 is his fifth Bateman machine and, although he admits they’re expensive bits of kit, he believes the backup is second to none.

See also: Change sprayer nozzles ‘at flick of a switch’

This is kitted out with a 30m air-assisted boom with an air sleeve, a feature that can be difficult to handle, he says.

“You couldn’t teach everyone to use the air sleeve,” he says. “And there’s no manual – in fact the engineer said if I could write a manual he would publish it.”

But Mr Goulbourne believes the boom considerably helps with drift, blowing the spray down into the crop. He has also adopted low-drift nozzles such as Hypro’s Guardian Air to enable more accurate and timely applications.

Section shut-off

The boom is split into 10 sections, and Mr Goulbourne has set the outer sections to 1m and 2m respectively, with 4m sections across the rest of the boom.

Everything in the cab is controlled via the AgLeader terminal with its Field Operation Wizard software, which he has found fairly easy to navigate through.

Powered by a six-cylinder 225hp John Deere engine, the Bateman RB35 is also fully auto-steer equipped with an AgLeader ParaDyme system. An RTK mast mounted on a local farm supplies the signal and Mr Goulbourne pays £500/year to use the facility, which was set up by Precise Solutions.

“If I do drift out of the signal area, it picks up the free signal but you’re always out by the time you get back to the headland – so I wouldn’t rely on it all the time,” he says.

Mr Goulbourne chose to go to a 30m boom, partly for the benefit of one of his major customers. But now, as a result, more than three-quarters of his customers spray at 30m – a width that demands some degree of GPS guidance, he says.

“The insurance offered by the NAAC protected me against things like damaged crops, striped crops, and now it protects me in case there are any breaches in cross-compliance.”
David Goulbourne, spraying contractor

“A lot of the farmers I spray for don’t have tramlines and one, who uses a Mzuri drill, has had the tramlines in the same place for several years.”

“I can more often than not spray on that farm when I can’t on others, as the tramlines are that much firmer.”

Slug pelleting

A Techneat tank is mounted on the front of the sprayer, which feeds three spinning discs on the boom for slug pellet application.

“I did look at a twin-disc Stocks unit, but didn’t like the idea of the slug pellets being applied at the front of the machine,” he says. “No matter how well your cab is sealed, some dust is bound to get in.”

Granular application is carried out with a KRM Bredal 3t demount spreader with its own loading arm.

It takes about one-and-a-half hours to swap over from the sprayer unit, and a module is fitted to the spreader to allow it to talk to the AgLeader system in the cab.

Membership beneficial

Mr Goulbourne became a member of the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) when he started contracting 27 years ago, for the sole reason that the insurance offered by the organisation was far better than anything else available.

“The insurance offered by the NAAC protected me against things like damaged crops, striped crops, and now it protects me in case there are any breaches in cross-compliance.”

He has played an active part in the organisation ever since, enjoying both the business and social sides of membership. “Spraying can be a pretty lonely job – more so than many other sectors of contracting. So it’s heartening that there’s always someone at the end of the telephone line should I have any problems or questions.

“It’s also essential that the organisation fights our corner; it has been successful with red diesel and is vocal in all industry areas.”