No longer confined to large arable units, the latest technology to increase accuracy and efficiency in fertiliser spreading is now becoming available on smaller models, suitable for grassland farmers. Jane Carley rounds up what is on the market.
Kuhn Farm Machinery’s MDS fertiliser spreader range features four machines designed specifically for use on smaller mixed and grassland farms.
Hopper capacities range from 500-1,800 litres with spread widths of 10-18 metres. Models can be specified with hydraulic controls and adjustable or non-adjustable boundary spread limiters.
The machine’s discs are fitted with spreading veins which can be adjusted for standard top dressing, late spreading or border spreading.
The firm’s Direct Flow Control system takes care of application rate adjustment and all MDS models can be fitted with optional band spreading attachments.
These spreaders can also be fitted with agitators for use with sticky or powdered fertilisers or grass seeds.
The largest 1,800-litre capacity MDS 19.1 is also available with Kuhn’s Quantron control box which enables the opening and shutting of the machine’s outlets for variable rate application.
The controller can be configured to work with standard or GPS-enabled speed sensors and it is capable of saving data for up to 200 different fields and 60 fertiliser spreading charts.
The MDS 10.1 D (double-row) machine is priced from £4,701, while the MDS 19.1 Q (Quantron-equipped) model costs £6,658.
Amazone’s ZA-TS spreaders are equipped as standard with a 700-litre, deep pressed base hopper designed to enable a continuous and even flow of fertiliser, says the firm.
There is a choice of frames - Super and the heavier duty Ultra - and six hopper extensions.
The ZA-TS Super, with a payload of 3,200kg and spreading widths of up to 36 metres, offers a combination of hopper extensions from 1,700-3,200 litres.
ZA-TS spreaders are available in Tronic or Hydro versions. Both offer eight section, part-width section control - with the mechanically-driven Tronic models doing so by spread rate adaption, while the hydraulically-driven Hydro version controls this through quantity and speed reduction of the spreading discs.
GPS-Switch automated part-width section control can also be specified, with or without a weighing system, plus weigh cell machines and a tilt sensor.
With a transport width of 2.60m and a maximum hopper capacity of 3,000 litres, the new narrow hopper ZA-TS is designed for narrow lanes.
The equipped AutoTS boundary spreading system is now supplemented by ClickTS which offers either completely mechanical control of border spreading or a combination of one-side electric and one-side mechanical control, both at a reduced cost.
All ZA-TS spreaders feature IsoBus technology and can be operated with the Amatron 3, CCI 100 and Amapad terminals or any other IsoBus control.
Amazone’s Simon Brown says: “The narrow hopper ZA-TS comes with a lower price tag due to the option of a manual delivery point adjustment and AutoTS border spreading from the cab to one side only.
“This new model is designed to bring TS spreading technology to a price level available to smaller growers, especially those in areas where getting about is more difficult.”
Prices start from £13,810 for a 2,000-litre machine without weigh cells.
Kverneland product specialist Graham Owen says the company is seeing interest in higher specifications for small spreaders, particularly the Exacta CL or CL-EW weigh cell spreaders which have the ability to apply variable rates.
“The demand for border spreading is dependent on whether or not fields have tramlines, usually where stock farmers are growing their own feed crops, rather than just grass.
“We sell very few CL machines of either model without an ExactLine border spreading device these days,” he says.
The Exacta CL spreader has a spreading width of 10-24 metres with capacities from 1,100-2,000 litres.
The CL-EW is fitted with a weighing system and uses reference sensor technology to correct for hillsides and uneven terrain. It also features an automatic speed-related dosing system with no need for calibration.
Weigh cell spreaders are IsoBus-compatible and can be used with the tractor’s Iso terminal or Kverneland’s Focus II IsoBus terminal.
The IsoMatch Tellus terminal can simultaneously view and operate two different IsoBus interfaces at once - such as direct control of two implements at the same time or continuous observation of a camera view - without switching screen. It can also be linked to a GPS receiver or sensor for variable rate spreading.
IsoMatch GEOcontrol is an additional software application within the IsoMatch Tellus offering section control, variable rate control, documentation capability and manual guidance.
The Exacta CL-EW1100 Pro Spreader with weighing system is priced from £10,180.
KRM’s Keith Rennie believes grassland farmers are increasingly using weigh cells.
He says: “They tend to apply lower rates more often and want to be accurate, so a weigh cell machine is ideal. There is also no need to calibrate the spreader - useful when working in a number of fields at different rates.”
Another benefit of a weigh cell machine, he says, is its operation is not limited by speed, allowing farmers to travel at higher speeds when conditions are right - useful in a busy spring.
KRM offers guidance for smaller spreaders using its Calibrator Icon control linked via a RS232 port to a GPS system.
This allows it to accurately spread up to 24 metres, rather than 12m which is more commonly used on grass, while making full use of the Autoswitch feature.
Autoswitch automatically switches the machine on and off at the optimal point to ensure no overlaps or misses, reducing operator fatigue.
Mr Rennie says: “It is about time savings and accuracy, which is important on grass as it is so sensitive to nitrogen levels. You do not have to be far out to see a visible difference and using GPS gives a more even application across the field.”
Ranges start with the L1, which offers simple hydraulic on/off, while the 2,000kg capacity L2 spreads to 24m and can be specified with electronic control, weigh cells and the Autoswitch headland on/off at a price of £12,495.
Vicon’s Crop Care Product Manager Paul Bellas says: “Our mid-range RO-M Rotaflow twin disc spreader, which is aimed at grassland and mixed farms, is also available with Comfort Control. This allows application rate and basic spreading functions for both discs to be
controlled easily via a simple control box. Field records can be stored in the memory.”
The RO-M EW offers weigh cell control which continuously monitors application rate and, when required, re-calibrates the machine ensuring consistent application when the operator adjusts rate or changes forward speed, says the manufacturer.
“This makes the machine particularly well suited for applying variable rates using pre-prepared application maps,” says Mr Bellas.
“The RO-M EW comes as standard with IsoBus control and can be operated direct via the tractor’s IsoBus terminal, avoiding the need for a dedicated control box. It allows basic machine control and GPS headland control, plus section switching for each spreading disc to optimise overlap and coverage.”
Farms without IsoBus tractors can opt for Vicon’s Focus II controller which can receive variable rate information via its serial port connection as well as GPS headland and section switching when used with the StarGuide guidance system.
Alternatively, Vicon’s IsoMatch Tellus offers a full dual display universal IsoBus terminal allowing guidance, GPS section control and variable rate, together with other features including the Vicon spreading charts app.
Starting price for RO-M Classic Comfort Control with 1,100-litre base hopper unit is £6,204. The RO-M EW with Pro spec - which includes TrimFlow border spreading, hopper cover and LED lights - costs £10,172.
Reco’s new Sulky DX range, including the DX20, DX20+ and DX30+ series, cover a wide market including grass-based farms.
The DX30+ series feature capacities of 1,500-3,000 litres and offer a spreading width capability from 12-28 metres, although 36m can also be achieved with some fertilisers.
Patrick Desmond, sales and marketing manager of importer Reco says: “The introduction of the Stop and Go system for the DX30+ series was an answer to the growing demand from grassland farmers who required an economy version of a boom section cut-off system.
“Working with GPS, the Stop and Go system takes control so the farmer does not have to guess or make approximations at controlling the shutters, which can offer fertiliser savings. It also works well as a driving guide.
“We noticed a growing demand from grassland farmers who want to drive and spread more accurately without the hassle of marking out.
With the DX range, the farmer can use the T Jet control box to set where to spread. The integral electric Tribord system also improves accuracy at the headlands.”
The equipped Vision control box, combined with its GPS antenna, uses reference maps on an SD card to automatically modulate the application rate. Applications can be recorded using the SD card and monitored on a PC.
The Vision box also displays data, such as the distance which can be covered with the remaining product inside the hopper, the tonnage which has been spread and the surface area which has been covered.
DX30+ spreaders compatible with Stop and Go start from £12,725. The full Stop and Go boom section toolbar kit starts from £4,540.