Lime and fertiliser specialist Andrew Dutton has sourced a bulk spreader to precisely meet the needs of his high output contracting business. Jane Carley reports.
A Gustrower bulk spreader has been specified by Andrew and David Dutton Ltd to meet the needs of their business.
The need to expand spreading capacity, and specify a spreader to exacting standards, led specialist contractors Andrew and David Dutton to purchase a Gustrower bulk spreader from Ryetec.
Based near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Andrew Dutton works with his father David and operator Graham Simcox, providing a full lime and fertiliser service, from GPS soil sampling and advice to supply and application, all within a 50 mile radius.
The company also fabricates and supplies hardened vanes and discs for Bredal spreaders.
“We operate three machines at peak season, although my father is semi-retired now,” explains Andrew Dutton. “And we apply 25,000-30,000 tonnes each year.”
A pair of Bredal bulk spreaders are also on duty carrying out P and K applications and all machines are fitted with a self-loading crane.
Andrew Dutton (left) and operator Graham Simcox.
Arriving in last summer, the Gustrower GDK 9000 was primarily chosen for its 16 tonne, 9cu.m capacity and tandem axles. Mr Dutton explains; “Gustrower was the only company that could supply a tandem axle machine to spread the extra weight, and was happy to adapt it to our design, with a steering rear axle and suspension.
“This reduces soil damage and tyre wear on turns, and the axles are fitted with wide tyres – 750/60 R 30.5 tyres on the front axle and 650/65 R30.5 behind to allow the wheels to turn without hitting the body and give a road width of 2.9m.”
Lime is fed to the spinning discs via a chain and slat conveyor rather than the rubber belt used on other two machines, and Mr Dutton comments that this gives a more positive feed which is especially effective on wet material.
“Each manufacturer’s machine has pros and cons so we like to run different machines to help cope with differing products and weather conditions. We also use a tractor-mounted Bogballe spreader for nitrogen applications.”
A pair of spinning discs spread to 15m wide, with a border spreading system fitted for use when spreading fertiliser.
Mr Dutton comments that they offer plenty of adjustment, which comes in handy with the highly variable quality and consistency of lime, plus changeable weather which can affect spreading characteristics.
Wide tyres were specified for the suspended, steering tandem axle – they are slightly smaller on the rear axles to allow for turning.
He also praises the LH5000 electronic control box which gives rate change on the move. “You just input the density and away you go. It also offers variable rate capability, but even after offering this service for eight years it only represents about 5-10 per cent of the business. It does add £1-1.50/tonne to the bill which has to be taken into consideration.”
Application rates are generally 2.5-5t/ha, although the higher rates are usually only needed on new contracts. “I aim to test our customers’ soils every three to four years which maintains the indexes. However, it’s a very accurate machine – we use parallel tracking on the tractors to check the amounts applied and it’s never very far out.”
While the extra capacity has already boosted workrates, Mr Dutton admits that he has not been able to take full advantage of it yet. “We recognise that the GDK 9000 really needs a bigger tractor than the Fendt 820 it was paired with. We were due to change last year but waited, and now we know the power requirement we have purchased a 240hp Fendt 724.”
“Jobs vary, but I would expect to get another 30-40t/day compared to the Bredal,” says Mr Dutton.
The loading crane is an essential part of the armoury, and while Mr Dutton has always sourced and fitted his own Botex cranes previously, he decided to try a KTS crane from the range of forestry equipment supplied by Ryetec.
A KTS loading crane has been fitted to give a self-contained supply and apply service.
“The clamshell and mounting are crucial, and once again Ryetec was happy to source it to our exact spec,” he says. “The crane is operated from a joystick inside the cab, and takes 10 mins to load the 16 tonne spreader. It’s as quick as using a telehandler and more versatile – if I only want to load the front of the spreader in the wet it is possible, and as you have a clear view of the load going in, can avoid any holes.”
Build quality looks good, he comments; “I nearly bought a Gustrower machine in 2011, but they were new to the market so I was a little concerned about durability and resale value. However, I subsequently looked at other contractors’ machines and they had fared well; I also heard good reports on customer service.”
He adds that while the machines work a long season these days – energy crops boosting the spring workload – and are flat out after harvest, they are relatively simple and need little maintenance.
“I reckon that one sixth of our total income is earned in September when we can spread 250-300 tonnes per machine on an average day, so they do need to be durable. We look after them well and only change when new product developments offer advantages – the last spreader we sold was 14 years old.”