16 March 2001

Front-mounted sprayers to hit UK this summer

By Andy Moore

SELF-propelled sprayers fitted with front-mounted booms have been relegated to the sidelines for too long by British growers, insists Matrot UK.

In attempt to change this "mind-set", the UK importer intends to distribute a new range which is destined to make its debut this summer.

Designated Maestria – French for Maestro – the series encompasses four models with boom widths ranging from 24m to 48m. Tank capacities are from 3000lt to 4500lt.

"UK growers need to be better informed about the operational advantages of front mounted booms," says Geoff Avis of Matrot UK.

"Sprayer performance is improved because the operator can look forward at the boom and nozzles – rather than behind him. This eliminates operator fatigue and improves spray coverage in field edges and corners."

Mr Avis also believes growers have been reluctant to operate front-mounted booms due to the risk of spray being displaced by the subsequent pass of the sprayer.

Matrot claims to have reduced this problem by arming Maestria models with a front carriage frame which offers full hydraulic adjustment for the aluminium boom.

"The carriage frame enables the boom to be lowered to 60cm above the ground so spray drift is kept to a minimum," explains Mr Avis.

"The sprayer can also be equipped with a nozzle kit which fits behind the rear wheels to eliminate spray being picked up by the tyres."

For spraying tall crops the parallelogram carriage frame can be hydraulically raised to 2.40m.

A "Pendular" system on the carriage frame is designed to allow the boom to remain parallel to ground contours, while a single hydraulic ram enables corrections to be made from the cab.

Suspension for each half of the boom is provided by hydraulic accumulators.

Each half of the boom can also be raised hydraulically for spraying on slopes – and the entire section can be moved laterally to avoid obstructions such as telegraph poles.

The boom is designed to fold hydraulically to a 2.96m transport width on all Maestria models.

"Placing the booms at the front means that there is an improvement in weight distribution overall because the engine is mounted transversally at the back of the machine," says Mr Avis.

"Power throughout the range is provided 6cyl Deutz engines delivering 125hp, 157hp, 186hp and 191hp."

Probably one of the most interesting developments to be found on the sprayers is in the transmission department.

Described by Matrot as hydro-mechanical, the transmission employs a combination of hydrostatic and mechanical drive.

Fitted directly to the engine is a hydraulic pump which supplies oil flow to a four-speed hydraulic motor positioned in the centre of the chassis.

The motor transmits power to a transfer box and central differential which supplies power to the front and rear axles through a prop shaft.

The four-speed motor provides three field speeds and one road speed up to 25kph.

For those seeking a greater selection of forward speeds, Maestria sprayers can be specified with a 40kph transmission.

Pneumatic selection of high and low mechanical gears doubles forward and reverse speeds to eight.

"The hydro-mechanical transmission is more efficient than full hydrostatic versions because it supplies more torque to axles which are operated in permanent 4WD," claims Mr Avis.

"This significantly reduces power and fuel consumption in sticky conditions and when travelling up slopes."

Unobstructed view

Transmission and main boom control functions are carried out by a joystick and dial from a redesigned cab.

The cab is claimed to provide 180deg of unobstructed vision despite the presence of the front carriage frame.

For suspension, the sprayers axles are each fitted with two air cushions and dampers.

Air pressure in each cushion is adjusted automatically according to the load exerted on each wheel.

An electrically operated compressor inflates the air cushion as load increases – when the sprayer encounters a slope or the main tank is refilled.

An average pressure of 6 bar is maintained through a three-way valve, according to Matrot.

Price for a Maestria sprayer fitted with 24m boom and 3850 tank is expected to be from £65,000. &#42

MAESTRIA 12

Engine: 125hp Deutz.

Trans: Hydro-mechanical.

Booms: 24m to 38m alu.

Tank: 3000lt 3900lt.

Steer: 2/4/crab.

Price: £65,000.