14 February 1997

Spreaders spot on target

Big kit on big tyres at the National Lime Spreading Demo. Peter Hill reports

LIME contractors are investing in more specialist spreading equipment as they aim for improved efficiency and try to meet customer demands for better spreading quality with less impact on field surfaces.

The equipment line-up at last weeks National Lime Spreading Demonstration, held on the Chillington Estate, near Wolverhampton, included big capacity trailer spreaders and specialist self-propelled vehicles, all equipped with large flotation tyres. Electronic control systems showed that contractors are gearing up for variable rate application in line with precision farming techniques.

Huge dust clouds whipped up by a light breeze also served to emphasise growing concern about the possible impact of public opinion on spreading operations, and galvanised interest in a new 12m (40ft) auger delivery system for the Amazone ZG-B spreader.

The previous design, covering only half the width, offered insufficient output to be of interest. But the wider design drew a lot of attention from contractors who could see a need to eliminate dust clouds as far as possible, particularly in areas close to urban development.

At £8000-£9000, however, the auger system represents a big additional investment with no prospect of increased returns, other than by giving contractors who use it a possible edge over other operators.

Amazone emphasises that the spreader can be used for applying other materials because it retains spinning discs at the back of the hopper.

"Contractors can, therefore, use the machine over a wide working season to recoup their investment," points out Dave Curtis of Amazone. "The spinners could also be used when maximum workrate at high volumes is required, or when the type or condition of materials does not suit the auger boom."

The ZG-B comes in two sizes: 8000 litres on a single axle and, 16,000 litres with a 10t maximum payload running on tandem axles. Complete with spinners, 12m auger and hopper cover, prices work out at around £25,000 and £39,000.

Accurate bout matching to ensure an overall even spread is another advantage of the auger boom, Mr Curtis argues. It is protected by break-back mechanisms, belt drive avoids damage to the auger in the event of a blockage, and hydraulic levelling keeps the boom on an even keel across slopes. The drop tubes can be set 82mm or 165mm (3in or 6.5in) apart.

Lack of dust clouds behind Amazones ZG-B bulk spreader drew attention to the machines 12m (40ft) auger boom. Auger option price is £8000.