Triple-tasking applicator does it all: sprays, spreads and seeds

HANOVER, Germany — This Brazilian-built self-propelled multitasking applicator may sound new, but it’s actually a melding of two existing machines — a granular spreader and a liquid sprayer — with a new pneumatic seeder for cover crops thrown in for good measure.

Introduced two years ago by Brazilian manufacturer Stara, the hybrid Imperador 3 has evolved to meet the demands of South American farmers who are renowned for extracting the most out of their machinery investment.

“There is nothing like it in the world,” says the company’s marketing materials.

The claim is probably true because, depending on terrain, the Imperador can cover up to a quarter section per hour while spraying, spreading granular fertilizer or blowing on seed for cover crops.

“With a single switch you can reset the machine to another duty in minutes,” said Felipe Willers, Stara’s international sales manager.

He said the machine’s design is appropriate for locations where farmers grow two crops a year but also for very short season single crop regions.

“In the same day we shift from spraying in the crop for weeds and then move to spreading fertilizer in another crop and back to spraying,” Willers said.

“It might not even be time for lunch yet some days.”

Willers brought the big multi-tasker to Germany for the Agritechnica show last fall.

The unique machine is the result of marrying the popular Imperador sprayer to the also-popular Hercules fertilizer spreader. In the new hybrid version, the polyethylene liquid tank holds 635 U.S. gallons. The stainless steel granular tank holds 6,600 pounds, or three cubic metres, plus it has double-slide gates and a rubber conveyor.

Spray boom length, fertilizer spread width and cover crop seeding width are available in either 88-foot or 99-foot models. This ensures the same tracks are followed in all three modes. The boom is centred in the middle of the wheelbase so that it’s more stable working in rough terrain.

“The centre boom design is unique to us. We are the only ones to use it this way. It means we are stable over a lot of (variable terrain),” said Willers, which might be inspired by the rolling country and tight fields of Brazil’s most southern state, where the machine is built.

Weight distribution is 50-50 fore and aft when spraying and 44 percent front and 56 percent rear when spreading.

The implement includes all the latest mapping, autosteer, Bluetooth communications, section control and other systems found on North American implements.

“We build all of our systems ourselves,” Willers said in Hanover.

“We get the latest in technology that the market can provide, but we build it into our guidance and (controllers), the whole machine, that way the farmer doesn’t feel as though the Stara is made up of a collection of parts and pieces.”

Where the Imperador differs from North American high clearance self-propelled machines is the ability to raise and lower the entire chassis by 16 inches by turning a knob in the cab. This is in addition to normal boom height adjustment. The up and down option gives growers the opportunity to apply late-season nitrogen in taller corn or late-season crop protection products.

The third Imperador function, cover crop seeding, is enhanced by the additional chassis lift because it allows for seeding of cover crops into standing crops.

For normal boom height adjustment without the up and down option, the 88-foot boom has a range of 23 to 80 inches adjustable from the cab. On the 99-foot model without the up and down feature, normal range is 31 to 89 inches.

The Stara website says the pneumatic seeding function is able to uniformly distribute seed across the entire width of either the 88-foot or 99-foot boom.

At the low end of ground speed and high end of seed volume, the pneumatic seeder dispenses up to 65 kilograms per acre at a ground speed of four km-h. At the speedy end of its performance, the seeder dispenses 20 kg per acre at a ground speed of 26 km-h. These tests were conducted with black-oat seed.

The Imperador is driven through a load sensing hydraulic pump by a 205 horsepower MWM turbo diesel. The hydrostatic four-wheel-drive machine can work on terrain with grades up to 32 percent. The supply pump is rated at 290 gallons per minute, filling the tank in less than three minutes.

An external wash system doesn’t require chemical bottles to be opened. The triple-function version with the seeder was introduced for this spring and can be added to existing bi-functional units.

The Imperador 3 is sold in South America, Europe and Africa but not in North America.

“I can tell you it has been talked about but not happened so far,” said Willers.

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