9 March 2001

FILL FAST FOR LIMING SUCCESS

Fast output with decent

spreading quality. Those are

the essential ingredients of

any successful liming

business. Peter Hill

reports on a Cornish

contractors approach

LOADING spreaders is always one of the time-consuming bug-bears of contract liming.

Bigger spreaders help reduce filling frequency but there are practical limits as to how big a machine contractors can use, especially – as in Mike Tremaines case – when work often involves climbing upland slopes.

Spreading up to 24,000t of mostly sea sand and chalk in an area stretching from Bodmin to Lands End in Cornwall, Mr Tremaines annual workload usually takes in some ground that would have all but the most fit hiker puffing for breath by the time they were half way up.

Hills that call for an extra careful approach – and which in some cases can only be tackled by driving up then reversing down – also dictate the type and size of spreader used.

"Most of the time Ill use a 7t to 8t Bredal K65 spreader Ive just bought, but on the hills I rely on a Transpread 830 because of its ground pto-driven powered axle," says Mr Tremaine. "It will carry up to 6t, but on the steepest land or in less than ideal conditions, Ill go out with it half full."

A good size tractor with plenty of power and sufficient weight to help keep tyres firmly planted on the ground also helps, he says.

"Ive used a 100hp tractor in the past and realise now that it probably wasnt heavy enough to keep a really firm footing on some of these steep banks," he says. "And I dont run on dual wheels. They may help a bit across the slope but they spread the weight more and so you dont get the same level of grip."

Whatever the spreading situation – and whichever spreader is in use – a quick turnaround helps

Fast output with decent

spreading quality. Those are

the essential ingredients of

any successful liming

business. Peter Hill

reports on a Cornish

contractors approach

LOADING spreaders is always one of the time-consuming bug-bears of contract liming.

Bigger spreaders help reduce filling frequency but there are practical limits as to how big a machine contractors can use, especially – as in Mike Tremaines case – when work often involves climbing upland slopes.

Spreading up to 24,000t of mostly sea sand and chalk in an area stretching from Bodmin to Lands End in Cornwall, Mr Tremaines annual workload usually takes in some ground that would have all but the most fit hiker puffing for breath by the time they were half way up.

Hills that call for an extra careful approach – and which in some cases can only be tackled by driving up then reversing down – also dictate the type and size of spreader used.

"Most of the time Ill use a 7t to 8t Bredal K65 spreader Ive just bought, but on the hills I rely on a Transpread 830 because of its ground pto-driven powered axle," says Mr Tremaine. "It will carry up to 6t, but on the steepest land or in less than ideal conditions, Ill go out with it half full."

A good size tractor with plenty of power and sufficient weight to help keep tyres firmly planted on the ground also helps, he says.

"Ive used a 100hp tractor in the past and realise now that it probably wasnt heavy enough to keep a really firm footing on some of these steep banks," he says. "And I dont run on dual wheels. They may help a bit across the slope but they spread the weight more and so you dont get the same level of grip."

Whatever the spreading situation – and whichever spreader is in use – a quick turnaround helps maximise daily output. And rather than suffer the complications of running a second tractor and loader, relying on one being supplied by customers, or delaying trucks by using loading ramps, Mr Tremaine has devised a solution that makes dropping off the spreader and using a loader on the spreading tractor a practical proposition.

"In the past, Ive relied on customers supplying a loader but you can waste a lot of time waiting for it to finish a job somewhere else on the farm," he says. "Having a second tractor makes moving from site to site a lot more complicated, quite apart from being expensive."

Having to couple and uncouple the pto and hydraulic pipes is a stumbling block of the one tractor for loading and spreading approach. But while little can be done about the pto shaft – other than using a spreader with hydraulic drive to the spinners – Mr Tremaine has tackled the hydraulic hose issue by adapting a loader quick-coupling device.

The idea came from the MACH system used to simplify hitching up the Chillton-Mailleux MX loader fitted to Mr Tremaines 160hp Valmet 8550 HiTech tractor. The device is a two-part coupling latched together by a man-sized handle and cam-type mechanism.

On the Transpread, this is used to couple two double-acting hydraulic hoses – one for the rear door, the other for the friction wheel drive to the hopper belt – and the two flow and return pipes for the hydraulic spinner drive.

Even with the pto shaft to the axle drive to disconnect, the process takes mere seconds. In fact, he says, thanks largely to the MX150 loaders sizeable bucket, fast responses and smooth power shuttle, the entire filling process can take no more than three and a half minutes from start to finish.

Another advantage of using the coupling is that there is no risk of hoses being wrongly connected and it also helps to keep the hose ends clean.

"Even so, I change the transmission and engine oil and filters more often than the recommended intervals," says Mr Tremaine. "The hydraulic system comes in for some heavy use, and lime and sand can do a lot of damage. Oil and filters are cheap compared with a damaged engine or worn hydraulic system and, having invested in a reliable system using first-class tackle, I want to keep it that way."

Field and road travel with the spreading outfit is helped by the loaders shock absorbing system, which allows the hydraulic lift cylinders to compress to avoid the implement crashing over humps and hollows. The Valmets Aires pneumatic front axle suspension provides an easier ride over rough ground – even at a typical 15kph working speed – and on the road, while generous tyres provide a low ground pressure cushion as well as ample traction when things get more difficult.

"I use two sets of tyres on the tractor – an original set, which is about three-quarters worn, for the summer months when traction is not a premium, and newer set for autumn and winter," says Mr Tremaine. "Its expensive to begin with, but it means I can get maximum life out of the tyres without compromising performance."

Demand for his outfit is pretty keen at present. And not just for liming work, but also for fertiliser and Fibrophos spreading, for which the Bredal is reckoned to be particularly effective. The extra demand, which sometimes has Mike Tremaine calling on nephew Michael Sadler and his JCB Fastrac/Land-Drive outfit, stems largely from farm restructuring in the area.

"Larger growers are buying up small farms and finding the land acidic," says Mr Tremaine. "Putting that right with sea sand, which has a neutralising value of 40%, or chalk is often the first thing they do."

Getting the pH levels to those appropriate for healthy vegetable, arable or grass crops is more important now than ever, he adds.

"If you want to make the most of your spending on inputs, especially fertiliser, soil conditions have to be right first." &#42

Loading process takes no more than three and a half minutes; then its off to spread another load of sea sand or chalk.

Hydraulic hoses are connected in seconds using MACH coupling with a cam-type clamping and locking device. It is quick and there is no risk of wrongly connecting hoses.

Mike Tremains liming outfit is self-contained so he can travel to sites, load and spread without assistance. Big bucket on the Chillton-Mailleux MX150 loader fills Transpread

830 in about three goes.