High tech fertiliser spreaders are no longer the preserve of the arable farmer. Jane Carley meets a specialist contractor using one of the latest machines from Amazone for a predominantly dairy farming customer base.
The spreader is mounted on a Clayton Buggi for a light tread and to give sufficient clearance for late applications.
Contractors Colin and Rob Brown are using the latest fertiliser spreader technology to offer a premium service to their Somerset customer base, many of whom are dairy farmers.
Using an Amazone ZA-V Profis spreader mounted on a self propelled Clayton Buggi, the father and son partnership cover up to 1,500ha (3,700 acres) per year, applying mainly fertiliser.
“A lot of our customers are dairy farmers, many of which we carry out all their applications,” explains Colin. “It’s mainly nitrogen and sulphur as they get plenty of P and K from muck.”
Contractors Colin and Rob Brown have used the new Amazone ZA-V Profis spreader since its prototype stage.
Mounting the spreader on the Clayton Buggi has a number of advantages, says Mr Brown, including the light tread offered by its wide tyres and from close-coupled position which improves weight distribution. Ample clearance also means that it can be used for late applications to oilseed rape, with a dressing given as the petals go off to increase oil yield.
High speed travel is another plus, points out Colin, useful as some of the jobs can be 20 miles away. In the field, all round suspension means that fertiliser can be reliably spread at 16-20kph in the right conditions.
“We also have a specialist high lift bag handler as the top of the hopper is three metres (10 feet) above the ground, which means there is no need for the customer to be tied up with loading,” comments Rob.
Purchased as a prototype two seasons ago, the Z-AV is the Browns’ second Amazone spreader, chosen for its high tech features.
Border spreading is managed from the cab using the electrically-activated Limiter V+ system. It can be swivelled down in steps from above into the spread fan either deflecting the flow from the long vane or from both.
“We can accurately spread to 24m with all materials,” says Colin. “The spreader is capable of working at up to 48m, but most of our fields are too small for that.”
He praises the Limiter V border spreading system which is activated from the cab.
“We tend to use the direct shut down on grass where customers don’t want any taper, but need a straight shut off to avoid the risk of fertiliser getting into watercourses.”
The Z-AV has also proved highly accurate, the weigh cells giving a precise reflection of what is in the hopper and unaffected by sloping ground or windy conditions as they are now fitted on the lower links. A two-dimensional tilt sensor also corrects any errors in the measuring procedure which might occur when driving up and down hills or when driving across a slope.
A variety of fertiliser brands are used by the Browns’ customers and Colin says that the ZA-V handles even small grain materials well – settings for different products can be called up on a smartphone app and the disc position altered accordingly via the QuickSet system. They also tray test if needs be, using the kit supplied with the spreader.
Amazone’s Amatron 3 IsoBus terminal gives GPS guidance and controls all spreading functions and adjustments from the cab.
The Amatron 3 terminal takes care of settings and functions in the cab, and also provides the guidance function.
“There are no tramlines to follow on grass, so the guidance comes in handy, plus the Amatron 3 has a sensible sized screen,” comments Colin. “When spreading after silage harvesting you are left with a short stubble so you can’t even see the wheel marks – some customers ask us to spread on their silage aftermaths using the guidance even if they do the rest of the season themselves.”
Awkward shaped fields are handled using eight virtual part-width sections, controlled via spread rate adaptation. Even at 8.6t/ha (3.5t/ac) a customer was impressed with how well the flow tapered off when the spreader approached a section that had already been spread, says Rob.
“It’s especially impressive when you consider the volumes being spread at higher forward speeds,” he adds. “There are no overlaps - it keeps me in the right place even after 50 years in the job.”
The base hopper has a volume of 700 l. It is deep-pressed without corners, edges and weld seams ensuring the continuous and the even flow of the fertiliser.
The Z-AV has a 700 litre base hopper, and with one extension fitted, holds four 600kg bags.
“Amazone does supply a narrower hopper, but we went wider as we didn’t want the extra height,” says Colin. “We also specified a hydraulic roll-over cover.”
After some issues with the paint finish on a previous Amazone spreader, Colin says that he is pleased with the build quality on the ZA-F so far.
“We have not experienced any paint loss in two season and all vulnerable parts are stainless steel now.”
He comments that he has enjoyed good support from dealer Noble Machinery and from Amazone, who continued to modify the spreader through the pre-production phase to keep up with the latest developments and also re-wrote the Amatron software to make the screen process more logical, at his suggestion.