If a 90-inch gap between your sprayer underbelly and the Earth’s crust isn’t enough, then you’d better get an airplane
High-clearance sprayers are reaching great new heights as they’re called upon to dribble nitrogen and spray fungicide and other crop protection products on corn as well as work in tall horticultural crops.
Steve Simon of Simon Innovations is head and shoulders above original equipment manufacturers and other aftermarket lift kit companies with his high-clearance lifters that pneumatically create up to a 90-inch gap between machine and the ground for application work in grape and blueberry crops.
His main product, however, is the R-Series kit, which increases under-frame clearance to 78 inches for corn growers. With 20 years spraying experience, Simon recognized that late-season applications were becoming increasingly important.
Beneficial as these operations may be, the fact is that the machine often caused significant crop damage in late season.
Simon built the first lift kit for himself four years ago. A tool and die maker by training, he saw the potential for commercializing the invention, but kept it under wraps until the bugs were ironed out and patent papers filed.
“I put a half dozen kits on regular wheel drive sprayers, plus one on rubber tracks,” Simon said.
“That one was intended to be my durability test machine, and it worked flawlessly.”
He said he worked with structural engineers to ensure the kits were safe and would stand up to the rigours of field work.
Simon Innovations went into full production two years ago, and he’s since sold more than 150 kits, including a shipment to Europe.
John Deere had a stilt type lift kit on a previous model sprayer, but it provided only 16 inches of lift and had to be installed every time it was needed and then taken off again when the application was completed.
“That didn’t work for me because I’m on a trailer, so I needed something that would raise and lower without having to install over and over again, so I went ahead and designed it myself and then I talked to some professionals in the industry and we ended up with this,” he said.
“I went to Firestone and they designed a special air bag for me that can carry the weight and give us the travel we needed. We control it all with pneumatic actuators plus there’s a levelling valve that controls the amount of air in each bag. The factory compressor is sufficient to supply the air volume and pressure we need.”
Lowering the gear case that houses the wheel motor is no small feat. To hold all components in place and pointing in the right direction, Simon has two huge strut rods on each of the four corners that serve as giant guide pins, allowing each corner to move up and down without flexing under the pressure and weight.
Located in Rodney, Ont., Simon’s company specializes in designing and building aftermarket options for high-clearance sprayers.
He sells two kits, depending on what a farmer needs:
- One goes from 62 inches up to 72 inches all in one stroke and carries a list price of US$28,600.
- The other is the R-Series, which has more travel and requires producers to swap out the rims and tires from the original 46-inch rims up to 54-inch rims. This kit goes up to 78 inches clearance and lists for $29,995. It requires about one day to install.