Self-propelled sprayers get faster and higher

Challenger RG600C HighSpeed sprayer

A wide range of newcomers with different propulsion, layouts and features have been launched by manufacturers, illustrating the diversity of self-propelled sprayer designs available to large growers and contractors.

The most significant new feature of the Challenger RoGator 600C trio is an increased top working speed from 21-30kph.

Growers in France have been the drivers for this development, it seems; like an increasing number of their counterparts in other European countries, they like to work fast to cover big crop areas and the US-built Spra Coupe was relatively popular over there.

See also: Precision Farming Event 2015: All you need to know 

With that machine out of production, the Dutch arm of Agco’s Challenger operation has responded to the high-speed quest, fitting the RoGator 600C with more powerful and heavier duty hydraulic wheel motors giving 10-15% greater driving effort.

There is already plenty of power – the RG 635C has 175hp from a 4.9-litre Agco Power engine newly upgraded to Tier 4 Final emissions compliance with SCR exhaust treatment, while the RG 645C and RG 655C have six-cylinder engines developing 224hp and 242hp.

To cope with the higher working speed, though, the RoGator has been given a smoother underside to minimise crop impact damage, especially in oilseed rape, and the centre frame of the boom has been redesigned with fewer components and pivots, while the rest of the boom has reinforced pivots and proper hinge pins for greater durability. Boom stability is said to be improved as well.

A dual nozzle switching system is installed so that two nozzles can be used to deliver the 40%-plus larger volumes needed to maintain application rate at the new top speed while retaining the ability to use a single outlet at more sedate travelling speeds.

John Deere

John Deere R4040i self propelled sprayer

Although John Deere’s new R4040i self-propelled sprayer has hydrostatic drive like the Challenger machines, its mid-mounted cab layout is an obvious contrast to the more common forward control set-up.

This newcomer entirely replaces the 5430i: it has a more rounded 4,000-litre poly tank with a smooth internal surface for efficient mixing and fast automatic cleaning, and a 50-litre capacity PowrFill chemical induction system.

The pendulum boom suspension system feature polyurethane dampers to contain movement without inducing violent bumps.

Complementing the established BoomTrac automatic whole-boom levelling system is the new variable geometry BoomTrac Pro option that automatically adjusts the wing sections either side of the centre frame to match ridges and valleys as closely as possible.

Instant coverage to the full working width of the sprayer is provided by the pressure circulation system, which keeps the liquid solution moving along the stainless steel spray lines and right up to the nozzles at all times – not just when spraying.

When spraying, the lines are fed from both ends to ensure consistent pressure and application rate.

In that mid-mounted cabin, which is said to be easier to reach now, the GreenStar 2630 terminal provides touchscreen access to settings, information and FieldDoc recording of all work.

AutoTrac steering is an option, as is a suite of FarmSight precision farming applications including wireless data transfer, remote display access and remote service advice, which are bought through a subscription to JDLink Ultimate after the free first year.

There is plenty of power to motivate the big sprayer – 235hp from a 6.8-litre six-cylinder engine and with up to 255hp available when the power management system deems it necessary to cope with hills and road travel. Top working speed is 20kph, travel speed 40kph.

Dual strut independent wheel suspension features on the chassis, with hydraulic track width adjustment part of the standard equipment package.

Amazone

Amazone Pantera 4502 sprayer

Amazone has used hydraulic struts to give a specialist version of its Pantera self-propelled sprayer a lift.

The “H” version increases ground clearance from the standard machine’s 1.2m to a towering 1.7m – primarily for spraying maize and other tall crops against pest and disease attack without damaging mature plants.

The 4,500-litre Pantera packs a 280hp engine with Eco and Power modes to save fuel when possible and will travel at up to 50kph.

In the field, the Pantera can be operated through Amazone’s Amatron 3 terminal or the more sophisticated Amapad, which is capable of delivering part-width GPS section control and other precision farming technologies.

Both will operate shape map software for variable rate applications, GPS-Track visual steering guidance and a Topcon auto steer option.

Beneath the spraying hardware, the Pantera uses a tandem chassis design licenced from Agrifac that is effective at smoothing out an uneven field surface and contributes to a high level of stability across slopes.

That is clearly important when the 4502-H sprayer is working at its highest clearance setting – as is the ability to push out the wheels to make use of the 2.6m maximum track width setting where possible.

Automatic row-sensing is an option for auto-steering in row crops – press a button and sensor fingers swivel out to “feel” their way along plants and correct the steering to keep the machine on track.

Landquip

Landquip Multidrive FC demount sprayer

As an alternative to the hydrostatic drive of these sprayers, Multidrive caters for operators wanting the positive characteristics and strength of a mechanical driveline and axles – and Landquip has come up with a spraying package for the forward control version.

This machine is built on the chassis of the regular Multidrive vehicle but with a shapely cab attached low in front of the engine rather than up high behind it.

Operators who like that layout have previously had to go with the Chafer version or Multidrive’s own spray pack.

Landquip has pitched in with a choice of three sizes – 4,000, 4,500 and 5,000 litres – using a relatively narrow cylindrical tank that contributes to a low centre of gravity and is reckoned to dissipate liquid surge for stability in fields (especially on slopes) and on the road.

The layout is also claimed to give the machine genuine 50:50 weight distribution, which should be an advantage as far as traction – as well as “flotation” – is concerned, especially when climbing and things are damp underfoot.

To kit the Forward Control Multidrive for liquid fertiliser application, Landquip recommends high flow stainless steel plumbing on the boom – the first unit built has a 24/36m trifold aluminium structure – and individually controlled auto switch bodies with the company’s own Umbrella jets for the ultimate in reduced application overlaps.

The Arag Seletron switching system – which is also available on Bargam MAC Track and Grimpeur mechanical-drive self-propelled sprayers from Cleveland Crop Sprayers – was first used in 2014 with single outlet nozzle bodies, but Landquip has added the twin and quad versions to its options list for this year.

All versions are operated from Arag’s Bravo 400s sprayer controller, which connects to each nozzle body by a water-tight sealed Can-Bus cable running the length of the boom.

As each nozzle body has its own IP address (like computers connected to the internet) they can be switched on and off individually to avoid overlapped spray applications.

With dual- or quad-jet bodies fitted, the Seletron system can also be used for nozzle switching to keep within Lerap requirements or to switch from one size of fertiliser jet to compensate for slowing down to make a headland turn and so maintain correct pressure and output pattern.

Agrifac

Agrifac Condor Endurance HydroFill sprayer

A neat solution to filling big sprayers quickly is Agrifac’s contribution to this year’s sprayer developments.

Its HyroFillPlus option for the Condor Endurance self-propelled sprayer mounts an 800-litres/min self-priming transfer pump on a hydraulic arm located beneath the cab.

This is lowered for the filling process and from this low position the pump performs at its best because of the reduced suction height, filing the 8,000-litre tank in less than 10 minutes.


Controls are located alongside the cab steps and the large pump means the sprayer’s 315hp engine need run at only 1,000rpm, resulting in decent fuel economy.