There’s no shortage of short-line ag implement manufacturers, and in almost any of them, the corporate executives will tell you they are now playing in a crowded marketplace. But the head of Germany-based Amazone is more bullish, saying his firm has the recipe for growth, and that he’ll be able to continue finding new markets while strengthening business in existing ones.
Indeed, it seems business really is picking up for Amazone, where today, 80 per cent of production is exported outside of Germany and Austria, says Christian Dreyer, Amazone’s CEO, to a crowd of journalists during an international media field day in Germany in September. “We’re optimistic.”
All of Amazone’s newest application and seeding equipment relies on a big digital component to offer farmers increased efficiencies. It’s a high-tech market niche that Dreyer wants his company to dominate.
“It’s where farming needs to go to survive,” Dreyer says. “Our aim is to offer high-tech solutions to farmers worldwide.”
The company has been a prominent sprayer manufacturer in Europe for years, and it offers a line of both self-propelled and pull-type models. However, only the pull types will be available in Canada.
But don’t think that means that all the best sprayer technology will stay behind in Europe. In fact, the firm’s newest pull-type sprayer, the UX AmaSpot, is a prime example of Dreyer’s intention to make cutting-edge digital technology the emphasis across the company’s full offering.
This sprayer uses an “Intelligent Nozzle System” that can significantly minimize the amount of chemical used per acre. Using GreenSense fluorescent sensors that detect chlorophyll and can differentiate between green plants and bare ground, an on-board digital system identifies growing weeds and sprays herbicides only where needed.
When a sensor detects a green plant, the appropriate nozzle is activated with centimetre accuracy, even at speeds of 20 km/h or at night, based on a boom using a special nozzle that can open or close in just two milliseconds.
The UX AmaSpot models began production in late 2017 alongside the brand’s larger and more conventional UX 01 Super Series pull-type models. Although the UX 01 Supers won’t get the selective spraying system offered on the UX AmaSpot, they offer their own advanced technology along with larger sizes and capacities. Tank sizes range from 4,200 to 6,200 litres (1,110 to 1,638 U.S. gallons) and boom widths from 27 to 40 metres (88 to 131 feet).
The UX 01 Super Series offers the ContourControl boom system with SwingStop yaw control. SwingStop uses a pair of hydraulic cylinders to control fore and aft boom movement with the help of sensors that compare the boom tip speeds to the sprayer’s ground speed. Up to six Ultrasonic sensors also allow the boom to contour and maintain a constant height above ground over uneven terrain. Each side of the boom can operate independently of the other.
In turns, sensors can calculate the actual ground speed of each individual nozzle and alter the application rate along the entire boom to ensure completely even product coverage. Nozzles can be spaced as close as 25 centimetres apart, which allows the boom to be lowered very close to the top of the crop canopy.
For those who need to apply dry product like granular fertilizer, the company has something new to offer as well in its ZG-TS pull-type spreaders. Two models in that line with 212- and 284-bushel tanks offer features that can improve spreading accuracy, even in windy conditions.
An on-board anemometer measures wind speed and direction as well as gusts and gives that information to the ZG-TS spreader’s computer. That allows it to compensate by changing the spinner disc speed and position on each side of the spreader. To confirm the spread is accurate, WindControl also uses 14 radar monitors to evaluate the pattern. If the wind becomes too strong for the system to compensate, it sends an automatic alarm to the operator.
The computer can also handle section control to minimize overlap or limit spread on one side when working along the edge of a field. The computer can use data from weigh cells under the tank to calculate if the actual application rate corresponds to the programmed setting.
Underneath the spreader is a steerable axle that keeps it following directly behind the tractor tires even in turns.
“Our strategy is to become specialists in crop production,” says Dreyer. “We’re offering everything other than tractors and combines.”