FARGO, N.D. — The split nitrogen trend sent Unverfirth back to the drawing board for a new applicator specifically for split application. While there, they made it the narrowest applicator in the industry.
“The NutriMax is definitely a split application machine. That’s what our engineers had in mind when they started with a fresh sheet of paper,” said Unverfirth representative Eric Myhre, adding that the narrow width makes it a safer machine in transit.
He said there is a strong trend for ag implement manufacturers to make narrower machines for transit.
“At a fold-up width of just 14 feet, seven inches, it’s the narrowest applicator on the market,” he said.
“We brought this 60-foot NutriMax to (the) Big Iron (farm show in Fargo). It’s folded up now to 14 feet, seven inches, but our 90-foot machine folds up just as tight.”
In terms of safety, a narrow implement should be a safer implement in transit, but NutriMax applicators do not have brakes as standard equipment or as an option.
Myhre said the growing demand for applicators capable of performing in-crop nitrogen application prompted Unverfirth to design a new machine from the ground up, specific to the requests they heard from farmers. He said there are two main reasons why producers are switching to in-season fertilizer application: economical and environmental.
“Traditionally, guys put all their fertilizer down in the spring and hoped for rain. If the rain didn’t come on time, they wasted money. Or, if there was a deluge early in the growing season, fertilizer was washed away. Wasted money and nutrients into the waterways,” he said.
“That leads to the second reason for split application: environmental concerns. Putting down more nutrients than the crop can use allows those nutrients to escape into the creeks and rivers and lakes. We can’t do that.”
Myhre said split application address both concerns. In the spring, you put just enough nutrient in the ground to get the crop going. He emphasized using just enough to get it growing. Once it’s up, you assess the crop and soil moisture and then decide how much more fertilizer the crop needs.
“Some of our customers doing split application report yield increases of 20 percent to 30 percent,” he said.
“They make sure the crop is properly fed but not over-fed.”
The NutriMax was introduced in 2016. The 60-foot machine on display was new for 2017. In the transit mode, the tank is somewhat concealed. It doesn’t look very big at all.
“Looks are deceiving. There’s actually a 2,600 gallon tank in there,” Myhre said.
“In fertilizer applicators, everybody’s looking for bigger tanks. We have tanks at 1,400 gallons, 1,800 gallons and this 2,600 gallon unit.”
Unverfirth says that with crop clearance of 36 inches, NutriMax does not quite qualify as a high clearance machine.
In corn, producers use their NutriMax to apply nitrogen in the V4 to V10 stages, which he says works well. Other growers do split applications in sugar beets and a few have started using the machine for split application in cereals. There is no provision for blending on the go. The liquid must be blended before pumping into the tank.
Coulters are in fixed positions with spacings of 20, 22 or 30 inches.
Myhre said the toolbar is unique to the industry. A farmer can buy one spacing setup to begin with. If his field management changes, he can then change the toolbar over to either of the other two setups.
Getting the last few gallons out of any tank is a problem if you’re working on side slopes. NutriMax addresses that issue with a containment tank that functions as a sump within a sump, so the last 30 gallons are used up.
The tank also has a stainless steel baffle for load stability.
The machine has a three-inch quick-fill for fast loading at ground level. There’s a nine-gallon clean water tank with an eye wash device for quick response. The pump uses pulse-width modulation technology to maintain correct pressure at varying ground speeds.
An optional steerable hitch is available. The steering software is programmed so the applicator automatically follows in the tractor tracks.
Depending on size and options, prices range from $50,000 to $100,000.