5 January 1996

Sludge contractor claims specialist route essential

By Peter Hill

A SEWAGE sludge contracting business has spurned conventional tractors and spreaders in favour of high-spec specialist equipment.

Alexander Maddan of Agrivert, based at Wooton Down, Wooton, Oxon, accepts that leasing two Horsch Terra-Tracs has involved a big financial commitment from the outset. But he reckons this type of equipment is essential to make the service acceptable to farmers and potential clients.

"The emphasis is increasingly on making proper use of waste products from sewage treatment plants, not merely getting rid of them," he says. "That means controlling application rates accurately, going on to land at the right time and causing minimal soil structure damage in doing so."

In planning his service, Mr Maddan studied similar operations in Germany, where, he says, exceptional standards are being set. He spent some time deciding on the best combination of application and control equipment and concluded that the three-wheel Terra-Trac, offering big spreading capacity but a lightweight tread, provided the right solution. Agrivert has two TT 350VS, 350hp-engined machines and will acquire more if potential contracts come to fruition.

Though these are not the first Terra-Tracs to be operated by contractors in Britain, they are the first examples of these particular models, notes Horsch importer Tim Meyrick.

One of Agriverts machines is equipped with a 12cu m (15.7cu yd) Tebbe solids spreader, the other, an 11,000-litre (2420gal) Zunhammer-Annaburger liquid system. The latter comes with a chopper and positive-displacement pump, enabling material of relatively high dry matter to be handled, plus a forward-projecting, self-filling spout for quick turnarounds.

Farm slurry or bio-solids from sewage treatment works are applied through a 9m wide (29ft 6in) Zunhammer dribble bar or 4.2m (13ft 9in) Duport shallow injector – also the first of its kind in Britain. An arable injector is also planned.

According to Mr Madden, fast work rates, minimal ground damage and accurate application rates are the principal features of his new equipment. The Tebbe solids spreader is mounted on load cells coupled to an in-cab monitor, so that application rates can be regulated with accuracy.

Similarly, the LH Agro monitor fitted as standard to the Terra-Trac takes ground speed and pump delivery recordings so specific liquid application rates (down to 15cu m/ha) can be achieved at the push of a button, with a printed record of every job completed.

"It is important farm land is not just used as a disposal site for waste materials," says Mr Maddan. "With this equipment we can get down to very low application rates if required with great accuracy, so waste bio-solids can be used properly within the farms overall fertiliser programme." &#42

Alexander Maddan:"We can apply slurry, yard manure or waste bio-solids at accurately controlled rates."

Agriverts two Horsch Terra-Tracs pack a 350hp Merecedes-Benz V8 diesel engine and full hydrostatic drive. Behind their cabs sits an 11,000-litre (242gal) liquid spreader, fitted with a self-fill probe and a 12cu m (15.7cu yd) Tebbe solids spreader. Big tyres cut soil structure damage.