European sprayer gets North American drift

Big booms, big tank, adjustable track and 10-inch, PMW nozzle spacing running less than a foot from the ground

Horsch has produced self-propelled sprayers that met road-width restrictions in European markets for years.

Now, its recent offering comes with adjustable axle widths and frame height that will help the company compete in the North American market where big sprayers cover more acres.

The company has big plans for expanding into Canada and the United States with its Leeb VL (variable large) series, and by big, the company is offering a sprayer with 2,100 gallon capacity and a 45 meter (148 foot) boom that is expected to be demonstrated in Canada next summer.

Horsch is already demonstrating a VL sprayer in Alberta this fall, a Leeb 6.300 VL, that has a 120-foot boom and 6,000-litre polyethylene tank.

Mike Wasylyniuk is in charge of showing farmers and dealers the sprayer, and he said the sprayer’s ability to maintain a low boom height makes it stand out.

“We are the first sprayer manufacturer to run the spacing at 10 inches in North America. The normal size in North America has been 20 inch spacing for the tips,” Wasylyniuk said.

“If you take that 20-inch spacing sprayer and lower it right to the ground and try to run it there you’re going to have misses. So when you turn on that extra nozzle, basically in between every 20-inch nozzle, you’re going to turn off those misses.”

The Leeb 6.300 VL sprayer uses Raven’s new pulse width modulation (PWM) nozzle control system called the Hawkeye 2 that supports 192 nozzles and higher rates compared to the previous Hawkeye system.

The Leeb 6.300 VL has 146 nozzles across the 120 foot boom.

Wasylyniuk said having the nozzles closer together gives operators more options when it comes to coverage, including using alternating spray tips and the angle they are set to.

“Right now the way we have that sprayer set up is we have our straight conventional nozzles facing straight down, and then every second nozzle we’re alternating and facing the other direction,” Wasylyniuk said.

He said using multiple angles on the spray tips will help increase crop protection coverage for difficult to hit targets such as fusarium head blight and flea beetles hiding underneath canola leaves.

Growers can also run the sprayer as if it has 20 nozzle spacing and turn on the other nozzles if they want more coverage

“For instance if I’m running a set of 05 tips at 20 inches. With that size of tips I can probably spray 7.5 gallons per acre with a full range of speed and pressure. I can hit a switch in the cab and I can now spray with double the amount of tips at 10 inches at 15 gallons,” Wasylyniuk said.

The spray pump on the Leeb 6.300 has a capacity of 84 gallon per minute.

He said more research needs to be conducted before the company can recommend when to use different sizes of spray tips at the same time, and the angles they should be set at.

The Leeb VT uses the same boom control technology the company uses on its pull type sprayers. It’s a parallelogram suspension that is spring-loaded and damped hydraulically with active pneumatic control of the middle section to help keep the boom level.

The parallelogram was designed to keep the boom close to the axle to help reduce whipping and boom swaying.

“What they’ve done is basically placed gyroscopic sensors on the top middle portion of the boom. What this does is, very similar to how a drone works…As that sprayer bounces around though the field it’s moving but the boom stays steady. So it’s using almost gimbal technology like a drone uses to keep the boom steady,” Wasylyniuk said.

He said he’s been running the sprayer at 18-19 m.p.h. over rough terrain with the boom 20 to 25 inches above the ground, while sprayer operators typically keep their booms somewhere between 35 and 40 inches above the ground.

Another advantage of keeping the boom lower to the ground is the spray is less prone to being pushed off target by the wind.

“So, if I have a day where it’s borderline too windy, with this sprayer with the Hawkeye 2 system I’ll be able to lower my pressure down and run that boom at 10 or 15 inches off the ground and try to spray without any drift. That might give me more available sprayer hours per year than any other machine,” Wasylyniuk said.

He said the boom has guards in front of the nozzle bodies so that if the boom is run into the ground a little it’s unlikely the nozzle body or solenoid will be broken.

The booms are made of steel with an outside aluminum breakaway.

Horsch uses recirculation booms and the entire system can be cleaned out by one push of a button.

Wasylyniuk said operators can put any control monitor they want in the cab, including Trimble, John Deere, Topcon, or Raven.

The sprayer he is demonstrating in Western Canada this fall is equipped with 380-105s skinny tires.

“The reason why they are doing that is we have bigger wheel motors and more hydraulic capacity,” Wasylyniuk said.

“What that also allows us to do is run bigger fat tires. So we will be running a set of 900s.”

There is intelligent all-wheel drive that distributes drive torque to the wheels, selective traction control for every tire option, two gearbox versions to choose between, and a hydrostatic transmission that maxes out at 31 m.p.h.

The sprayer is powered by a Fiat Powertrain Industrial 6.7-litre, six-cylinder engine with a maximum output of 310 horsepower that meets Stage 5 emissions regulations.

The Leeb 6.300 VL has an optional hydraulic lift, that with a push of a button will lift the machine up to a maximum height of 198 centimetres, and the axle widths are electronically adjustable from three meters to 4.1 meters in five centimetres increments.

There is an air ride cab and four-wheel steer, it has a 50-50 weight distribution between front and rear axle and hydropneumatic, single wheel, independent suspension.

There will be a limited release of the Leeb 6.300 VL in Canada next year.

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