Big pull-type benefits weighed against normal self-propelled

That Nozzle Guy, Tom Wolf, says fill frequency is just as important as sprayer speed and width when it comes to penciling our sprayer productivity.

Wolf’s Productivity Calculator on his website, www.sprayers101.com, allows producers to plug in their own numbers to help make better spray decisions specific to their own farm.

“The Productivity Calculator and my own thinking are driven by the cost factor and the capacity factor. What are you getting for your dollars? The currency in this case is capacity,” said Wolf, owner of Agrimetrix, a Saskatoon company specializing in application technology.

Convenience and comfort are secondary currencies, sort of like small change.

Wolf said a large pull-type, like the Amazone UX11200, costs about half what a large self-propelled, high clearance unit will cost. Most farmers already have a tractor suitable to pull it, he added — a light tillage tractor or the grain cart tractor — that isn’t used during the main spraying seasons. As a result, the investment is smaller and the capacity is larger.

“So let’s do the productivity calculation,” he said.

“Everybody seems to assume that productivity is just about speed and width. Not true. The frequency of filling is a really important part of productivity.

“If you have a tank that’s 3,000 gallons or bigger, it’s safe to assume you’ll only fill one-third as often as most self-propelled sprayers. That extra fill time is when you should be spraying.

“We have this exercise in our Productivity Calculator on our website. (Farmers) using it say it takes them 25 minutes to fill a 1,000 or 1,200 gallon tank. If you fill one-third as often, that’s a lot of extra acres per day.”

Wolf said there’s a trend toward higher water volumes and lower speeds when producers spray fungicides. That factor strongly supports the need for larger liquid volumes, he added.

On the other hand, large pull-type sprayers typically do not have the ground clearance required for applying fungicides to tall crops.

“One thing that bothers me about self-propelled sprayers is the cost and inefficiency of duplicating all these drive trains on the farm,” he said.

“(However), If we talk about acres per hour and return on investment, I think the pull-type manufacturers do have something valid to offer farmers.”

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