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User story: Switch to self-propelled sprayer increases capacity and flexibility

Following our recent driving impression of Chafer’s Interceptor self-propelled sprayer, we catch up with one of the machine’s first customers. Farmers Guardian reports.

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Expansion of the Barton and Co Farmers’ business prompted the move to a self-propelled sprayer.

An expanding cereal operation at Barton and Co Farmers, Hall Farm, Saundby, Nottinghamshire, meant the farming outfit has had to have a complete rethink about its spraying strategy.


Rather than going bigger with tank capacity, the business has actually gone smaller, but switched from a trailed machined to a self-propelled sprayer, increasing efficiency in the process.

Hall Farm’s Interceptor specifications

  • Engine: 6.1-litre, six-cylinder, Deutz
  • Transmission: Bosch Rexroth hydrostatic with a road speed of 40kph (25mph)
  • Booms: All steel 24-metre
  • Spray tank capacity: Steel 4,000 litres, with internal 600-litre clean water tank
  • Induction hopper: Steel 45 litres
  • Boom mounting: Mast offering 280-2,480mm (11-98in) ground clearance (on 380/95 R38 tyres)
  • Spray pump capacity: 600 litres/min

The 1,400-hectare (3,500-acre) farming estate run by Harry Barton comprises heavy clay loam soils which support an arable rotation including wheat, barley, oilseed rape, peas and beans. Feed wheat yields average about 10 tonnes/ha (4t/acre).


When the farm bought its last sprayer in 2012, a 5,000-litre trailed Chafer Sentry, it had the capacity to cope with the amount of land farmed at the time, but a recent opportunity to take on an additional 280ha (700 acres) put pressure on the system.


Naturally, the first option considered by the business was to buy another trailed machine to reduce workload pressure, but this would have required another 220hp tractor, costing about £120,000. This would have also left spare capacity in slack times of year.


Granular fertiliser is still applied using the farm’s own Vicon 24-metre variable rate spreader, so switching to a liquid system to soak up extra capacity was not considered a cost effective approach.


After much deliberation, it was concluded a self-propelled sprayer to replace the trailed would provide the best option, without having too much extra capacity.

Operator Andy Beloe rates the contour following of the steel F Series boom.

Mr Barton says: “Selecting which self-propelled sprayer to buy was never going to be an easy decision because of the investment required.”


The final prompt came from Chafer, when the manufacturer announced it was going produce its own self-propelled sprayer. This was what Mr Barton had been waiting for, he says. “We have been discussing with Chafer the potential of a lightweight self-propelled sprayer for some time. We were keen to have the first prototype model and have assisted in its development to a full production model.”


In addition, several other pointers weighed in Chafer’s favour, not least the manufacturer’s proximity to the farm. And having run several of the firm’s trailed machines in the past, Mr Barton was familiar with the machinery and the company.


He says: “The Interceptor is basically a Sentry spray pack on a new chassis. This gives me the best of both worlds, as we can continue with the build and technology of the Sentry, but with the advantages of having a self-propelled machine.

The Interceptor uses many common components as found on the firm’s trailed machines.

He says: “The Interceptor is basically a Sentry spray pack on a new chassis. This gives me the best of both worlds, as we can continue with the build and technology of the Sentry, but with the advantages of having a self-propelled machine.

 

“Autosteer and auto shut-off are also features, run through the machine’s Topcon X 30 GPS system supplied by LH Agro, which is displayed on one screen. The main difference is it now has its own engine.”


During development, Mr Barton experienced few issues, he says: “The main downside to having the first Interceptor is it is restricted to 40kph on the road.” Production models will be 50kph (32mph), says the manufacturer.


With a dedicated self-propelled sprayer, Mr Barton says he should be able to do about 600-700 hours of spraying per year, equivalent to about 10,000ha (24,710 acres).


His 4,000-litre Interceptor is equipped with the manufacturer’s 24m F-Series boom and is powered by a six-cylinder 215hp Deutz engine married to a continuously variable transmission.

Mr Barton says the self-propelled machine provides more even weight distribution than previous trailed unit.

Mr Barton says: “We have noticed a marked improvement in our ability to keep working in more challenging ground conditions and this has ultimately increased our spraying flexibility.


“There is much more storage capacity too, which we think is important because it allows us to store more chemical, avoiding the need to return to the farm to pick up supplies. Airtec nozzles were an optional extra which we wanted, because it allows us to change droplet size on the move and gives us more flexibility.”


Weight distribution is also noticeably better than a trailed sprayer and tractor combination, notes Mr Barton.


He says: “Total weight is now equally distributed over four wheels on the Interceptor, rather than most being over the back axle as is the case with a trailed machine. Fully loaded, our sprayer weighs about 12.5t or about 3.1t per wheel, as opposed to the trailed outfit, which weighed about 18t full. This should certainly help in wetter conditions, increasing our spraying window.”


As for the tractor which used to be tied up with spraying duties, Mr Barton says this can now be employed for other operations on-farm during busy workloads, avoiding the need to potentially purchase or rent another tractor.

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