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Spreading it around

New fertilizer applicators rush onto the market

In 2016, farmers were introduced to several new machines capable of meeting their fertilizer spreading needs. Among them was the new self-propelled F4365 spinner-spreader from John Deere, a high-capacity machine designed primarily for large operators and custom applicators.

The F4365 sports a 330-cubic foot New Leader dry spreader box, and can apply up to 1,100 pounds (499 kilograms) of fertilizer or 6,600 pounds (2,993 kilograms) of lime per acre. It also has the ability to variable-rate apply up to four different products in a single pass, with spread widths of 60 to 90 feet.

Under the hood, the F4365 gets one of Deere’s PowerTech PSS 9-litre diesels mated to an IVT transmission. That gives it a 46-m.p.h. (74 km/h) road speed and maximum application speed of 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h).

New from John Deere is the high-capacity F4365 dry box applicator.
photo: Scott Garvey

“Service providers and large-scale producers can cover more acres faster, and in greater comfort, with the ability to variable-rate apply up to four different fertilizers in a single pass,” says Dave Mulder, product manager with John Deere Crop Care.

Inside the CommandView III cab operators get some updated features, such as an improved seat swivel and cameras that show the field, dry box and rear spread pattern.

But for those looking for something that can apply product across a 40- to 60-foot width without the need to maintain another self-propelled machine, Loftness, based in Hector, Minnesota, thinks it has the answer with its pull-type RC800 high-clearance row crop model. It’s an eight-ton, single-axle spreader with 44-inch under-frame clearance to accommodate in-season applications. The RC800 includes a variable tread width from 80 to 120 inches, which should handle virtually any row-crop spacing.

Loftness recently introduced the RC800 which can provide a 40- to 60-foot spread pattern.
photo: Loftness

At the rear are dual stainless steel spinners, which the brand claims can deliver product evenly by using a 100 per cent overlapping triangular spread pattern. The RC800 has a positive mechanical conveyor drive, rather than a friction drive wheel, and can be equipped with a hydraulic conveyor drive for variable-rate applications.

To give the RC800 some resistance to product buildup and corrosion, flat surfaces are minimized throughout, and the hopper interior has no gussets, plates or other obstructions for fertilizer to catch on.

Saskatchewan-based SeedMaster introduced its Nova Flex granular applicator attachment earlier this year, which allows the brand’s Nova SmartCarts, built for use on air drills, to do double duty as part of a fertilizer applicator. The newly designed applicator bar hooks up to any Nova air cart just as a regular air drill does, and the combination can then fall apply or top-dress granular fertilizers.

“The Nova Flex fertilizer and nutrient applicator really came out of the idea that people were sinking $300,000-plus into floaters, when they already have a highly accurate, highly technologically advanced metering system and holding tank in their yard,” says Trent Meyer, director of sales and marketing at SeedMaster.

“What it allows you to do is to time your fertilizer application, if you choose not to apply 100 per cent at seeding. With new products coming out from the fertilizer companies, this really is a cost-effective way of utilizing the assets we have on the farm.”

The Nova Flex fertilizer applicator mates to any Nova SmartCart and allows growers to apply granular fertilizer other than during seeding.
photo: Scott Garvey

When connected to a Nova SmartCart, the Nova Flex applicator is capable of delivering 350 pounds (159 kilograms) of product at working speeds up to 10 m.p.h., and the Zone Control feature of the Nova carts allows for up to 10 independent control zones across the Flex bar to reduce application overlap. Inside the tractor cab, operators use the same monitor, so they don’t have to learn to use yet another system.

“Not everyone’s going to apply multiple products at the same time,” Meyer says. “But at the end of the day there is the opportunity to do that (with the Nova Flex).”

Salford was another brand to introduce something new in applicators in 2016 with its completely new 20-ton fertilizer spreader that uses a 66-foot air boom. According to Dave King, the company’s director of sales and marketing, it’s meant mainly to appeal to western Canadian growers. Salford expects this machine should create new interest in the market for dry product spreaders across the Prairies, especially among those who want to apply some fertilizer in the fall to minimize the spring workload.

Development of the new spreader — a prototype of which was first displayed at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina in June — was the result of Salford recently taking over both the BBI and Valmar brands. That allowed the company to integrate technology from both firms and create the new, high-capacity air boom spreader.

“The units that were here in the past had less technology and features,” King notes. “And the sizes weren’t big enough. Today, we’re offering a lot higher technology in spreaders. As a general rule, when you get to about 25 m.p.h. with wind, an air boom will perform better than a spinner.”

King adds that the brand is considering offering models with even larger boom widths in the future as it continues to refine the spreader’s design.

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CG Machinery Editor

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