Switch from liquids to solids starts to pay off in cost cuts
APPLYING liquid fertiliser rather than granules had always been the preferred system on farmers weeklys Easton Lodge Farm – the ability to pump and not hump clearly finding favour.
But two years ago a decision was made to buy a pneumatic tractor-mounted spreader for applying solids.
Costing £15,000 after discount, the Kuhn Aero Pneumatic 2200 represented no small investment but, according to farm manager, John Lambkin, the spreader is now contributing to the farms five-year plan to cut establishment costs and increase yields.
"Until recently our fertiliser application policy was to spray on ammonia sulphate and employ contractors to apply P&K solids using a conventional disc spreader," says Mr Lambkin.
"Costing up to £6000 a year, this contracting service represented a large outlay."
The 20m Aero Pneumatic was chosen for its ability to spread a wide range of fertiliser types including urea, granular and prill at rates from 40 to 600kg/ha.
Fertiliser is gravity-fed on to two hydraulically-powered rollers set lengthways along each side of the spreaders 1500lt hopper. Each roller meters fertiliser through four outlets (eight on each side) before a hydraulically-powered fan, driven by the pto distributes material to eight outlets along the boom length.
The boom, which has the same width as the farms pesticide sprayer, can be hydraulically folded in sections to a 2.98m (10ft) transport width.
Mr Lambkin says one of the main advantages of the system is being able to apply final top dressing to oilseed rape in April, when the crop is in the green bud stage.
"One-third of the crops nitrogen requirements can be kept back for top dressing in April which promotes seed rather than vegetative growth in the run up to harvest," he says. "Using a disc spreader in this situation would be almost impossible due to the height of the crop." *
Kuhns Aero Pneumatic 2200 fertiliser spreader with 20m boom was chosen by Easton Lodge for its ability to apply a wide range of fertiliser types including urea, granular and prill at rates from 40 to 600kg/ha.