Agrifac bullish about UK sprayer prospects

Agrifac is back in business in a big way, with plans to boost its UK share of the self-propelled sprayer sector.

Agrifac sprayers come with booms up to 54m and the tandem wheel layout is said to give good stability and 50:50 weight distribution.  

The Dutch sprayer and beet and potato harvesting specialist was originally part of machinery group Agrimat, which also included well-known names in the beet and potato sector, such as Amac, Riecam, Climax and WKD. But despite a full order book, debts at the Amac subsidiary pushed Agrimat into liquidation in October last year.

Agrifac was bought out by two directors just two weeks later and is bullish about the prospects for boosting its market share, particularly in the self-propelled sprayer sector where it sees opportunities for growth. It sells in the UK through Agrihold of Cambridgeshire, which is due to change its name to Agrifac UK.

The Dutch company has some strong factors in its favour. It built its first self-propelled sprayer in 1984 and has considerable experience in this area. It also has a clever contra-rotating tandem wheel system that is claimed to make the sprayer more stable than conventional designs and gives a 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear wheels.

It also has half the Dutch market for self-propelled sprayers, with a further 30% going to UK farmers and contractors.

Although Agrifac faces strong competition in the UK from home-grown brands such as Bateman, Sands and Househam, it believes its 25 years’ of experience with wide booms will help it boost market share in the UK.

Most sprayer booms in the UK are 24m, with relatively few at 36m. However, Agrifac says it mostly sells 36m, 39m and 48m booms throughout Europe and has even made a 54m boom. It says there are only four 48m sprayers in the UK, which are Agrifacs, on a farm in Yorkshire.

UK growers have traditionally shied away from ultra-wide booms because of perceived stability problems when working on undulating fields. However, Agrifac believes its air suspension system, allied to modern boom design, means farmers could go wider and boost work rates sharply.

It is also looking for signs of recovery in the sugar beet harvester market. This had been driven by sales in Russia and eastern Europe in the past few years, although these have dried up because of the recession. However, the company believes there are signs that buyers are returning to the market.

agrifac zrb4 beet harvester 
The ZRB4 four-row prototype potato harvester has six-wheel drive and steering, 10t bunker, 520hp engine and 100t/hour spot throughput.

Potato harvesting machinery sales have also been in the doldrums across Europe in recent years. But there are signs of improvement and the firm has a new four-row prototype machine – the XRB4 – working in the UK.