New control technology, more sophisticated booms and – inevitably – bigger tank capacities are among the common themes adopted by manufacturers for their latest sprayers. Peter Hill rounds up some highlights.
Operators who like the relatively light weight and easy manoeuvrability of a tractor-mounted sprayer, but who want the sophistication usually reserved for trailed and self-propelled models are catered for by the Vicon iXter.
For one thing, it is claimed to be the first mounted sprayer with Isobus compliant electronics – which means it can be operated through an Isobus terminal with only a switch box needed to control boom sections.
For another, it features a “prime and purge” system as standard to prepare the spray line for spraying, maintain liquid flow through the boom when not spraying and to flush the spray line at the end of the job.
|Optional aluminium booms fold to a compact vertical position for transport; hitching to the tractor is made easier by a telescopic pto shaft – all connections can be made before reversing the tractor to engage the automatic latching system.|
High-tech aluminium booms are available in place of the lattice steel booms for reduced weight and a compact vertical folded position. The extruded components of the Alu-Liner booms are bolted and glued together so they can be replaced individually if damaged.
Moreover, the spray line, feed hoses and nozzle assemblies are tucked away inside a closed profile that not only protects them from impacts but makes the boom assembly easier to keep clean.
Buyers can add automatic suction valve control with pre-set shut-off level to prevent tank spills, electrically-operated suction and pressure valves in place of manual units, GPS-regulated boom section on-off control and parallel steering guidance.
|Easier connection to close-coupled mounted implements is promised with Lemken’s QuickConnect system. First offered on the Sirius sprayer, only the top link is attached by hand, leaving enough space between tractor and implement to couple hydraulic hoses, the pto and electrical connections. The lower links are attached from the tractor seat as the implement is drawn close to the tractor, thereby minimising the amount of counter-balancing weight needed up front.|
UK-based sprayer manufacturers vying to produce the biggest capacity trailed machines have launched new models that give growers increased output potential.
Knight Farm Machinery’s biggest yet trailed model is a 6000-litre version of the EUA, which previously has been available in sizes from 2500 to 5000-litres with booms up to 36m (118ft) wide.
The latest version, recently delivered to a farm in southern England, is kitted out with a 6000-litre stainless steel tank and 32m (105ft) tri-fold boom – although booms up to 40m (131ft) are available. A sprung steering axle with electronic control is designed to keep the sprayer stable in work and help give accurate tracking performance.
A fully integrated control system groups all sprayer functions in a simple multi-function joystick that combines application control, boom switching and all hydraulic functions. Automatic boom height, boom levelling and GPS-activated nozzle switching are also available as optional features.
All Knight EUA sprayers can now be fitted with either the Laser vacuum circulation system or the MAXImiser pressurised circulation set-up that further reduces chemical retention in the spray lines and reduces washing-out time.
The MAXImiser system also allows two sets of nozzles to be fitted on a single spray line and used individually or together to provide a wide range of application rates.
Landquip has gone a step further by uprating the Trailblazer trailed sprayer to 7000-litres capacity by installing a 13t axle with twin steering rams and hydraulic- or air-operated anti-lock brakes.
The pneumatic axle suspension with active ride-height control now features four air bag “springs” to carry the additional capacity and the optimum tyres recommended are 520/85R38 row crops and 850/50-38 flotations.
Landquip’s big-capacity trailed sprayer has been further uprated with a heavier duty axle and ABS brakes allowing 7000-litres capacity.
The Trailblazer also features new CanBus electronic steering that works in conjunction with Landquip’s SpraySat GPS system, a new installation that can switch up to 20 booms sections and off automatically to avoid over-spraying.
A thorough re-design has created a “Mk2” version of the Leader 2000- to 4000-litre trailed unit from Team Sprayers.
Unusually, the machine’s “three dimensional” boom – now said to be stronger and more durable – can operate in an asymmetric configuration with one side folded to spray around headlands or across crop beds.
There are 18m to 30m (59-98ft) sizes, with the 28m and 30m (92 & 98ft) versions being a triple-fold design to keep the machine stable and compact during road travel.
Electro-hydraulic boom controls are now standard on all models to enable different boom folding combinations, while the self-levelling tilt and anti-yaw mechanisms have been refined to further improve boom stability when spraying.
Variable boom geometry is an option to cope with undulating fields, along with computerised spray rate control.
Another option is the revamped heavy-duty steering drawbar that ensures the sprayer follows the tractor’s wheels in the field, while the addition of axle suspension is said to improve handling as well as giving extra ground clearance.
|Knight’s biggest EUA trailed sprayer is now this 6000-litre unit with steering axle and electronically-controlled suspension.|
“Trick” running gear on Agrifac’s rear-boom Condor self-propelled sprayer is designed to help keep booms up to 54m (177ft) wide on an even keel.
While the boom is stabilised on parallel lift arms with hydraulic cylinders connected to gas-filled oil accumulator “springs”, the chassis aims to minimise transfer of vehicle movements to the boom in the first place.
Front and rear wheels on each side are mounted on a rocking beam – a bit like the arrangement seen on some tandem axle trailers. This is said to result in even pressure on all four wheels at all times and, as a result, gives the sprayer a more even ride than usual over bumps and through dips, with little movement transferred to the vehicle chassis.
Hydraulically connecting the two undercarriage beams is designed to keep the weight spread evenly, while active air suspension between the undercarriage and the chassis frame helps overall ride quality.
Spraying of mature crops is helped by the Condor’s 1.1m (3.6ft) ground clearance, while track widths adjustable between 1.5m and 2.25m (0.5-7.4ft) cater for different tramline set-ups. A 168hp Deutz diesel powers the machine through its 50kph hydrostatic drive.
The spray pack, meanwhile, has been designed for minimum “dead” volume and normally uses pneumatic nozzle bodies to get fast and positive on-off control. Separate spray control and machine management computers provide operators with the information and switchgear needed to handle the machine effectively.
The latest version of the Lite-Trac applications vehicle developed engineer Paul McAvoy gives the operator a new cab, cruise control for consistent driving speeds in the field and a latest-spec Cummins six-cylinder engine.
|Mounting the front and rear wheels on a rocking beam each side with active air suspension to the chassis is designed to keep the Agrifac self-propelled sprayer riding as smoothly as possible over uneven surfaces.|
However, the fundamental concept of the machine – operating with equal weight on both axles at all times – has not changed.
This is achieved by mounting the 240hp Cummins engine and Dana six-speed powershift torque converter transmission between the two large chassis members at the centre of the vehicle. This allows the tank to be centrally mounted on top of the chassis, with the rear-mounted boom balancing the forward control cabin.
A tilting sub-chassis carrying the spray pack or spreader body is raised to give service access to the power-train and help with the demounting process for operators who want to use the vehicle for both liquid and solids application.
Both axles are mounted on “A” frames with adjustable air bag suspension and optional anti-roll bars for added stability during high-speed travel between fields.
Permanent four-wheel drive and diff locks help the Lite-Trac’s field performance, along with a choice of 620/70R46 Michelin XM28 “row crop” tyres and 800/70R38 flotation covers – either Michelin MachXbib or Firestone RDT23.