Connect’s sprayer system for the autonomous farming platform is being offered as a loaded, pull-type applicator
Connect built its first sprayer for the DOT agricultural robot in 2018. It was fit with a 120-foot boom and the most advanced spray technology available, including turn compensation, individual nozzle control, and a recirculating boom.
Tim Pattison of Connect said their team often heard from farmers that they like the sprayer, but they were unlikely to buy a DOT in the near future.
“We realized people were interested in a pull-type option and they liked the design and the functionality of our sprayer, so it naturally progressed into a pull type-option,” Pattison said.
“We identified that there is a gap on the farm. A lot of farmers have a high clearance, but they don’t want two, and there isn’t really a great option in North America for a pull-type sprayer.”
Connect started developing a pull-type sprayer in the spring of 2020 called the Sniper. It used the same technology as the Connect F120 sprayer developed for the DOT platform.
But there has recently been significant strides in the spraying industry, including the new Raven Hawkey 2 and Weed-it Quadro control systems, so Connect also made these available as options with the Sniper.
“We’re a short-line company so our resources are limited and we don’t have a department for designing and engineering an electronic system. Having access to Raven or Weed-it to help facilitate the product controller, it definitely helps us bring technological advancements to our sprayer without all the development,” Pattison said.
Raven’s new pulse-width-modulation (PWM) nozzle control system, the Hawkeye 2, supports wider sprayers, higher rates and is easier for operators to manage compared to its predecessor.
Snipers equipped with the Hawkeye 2 will come with 20-inch nozzle spacing in the first year of production, but if producers want 10-inch spacing with the Raven control system, Connect is expected to provide this in future years.
Weed-it’s new Quadro PWM control system shines a blue light ahead of the sprayer and uses sensors to detect chlorophyll within weeds, and each nozzle has its own solenoid that fires only when a target weed is detected.
The Weed-it system comes with nozzles every 10 inches across the Snipers 120-foot aluminum boom.
“We’re using Wilger nozzle bodies, so we have a rear drop on the back side of the nozzle body that allows you to put some more sticky product through like fertilizer or some of the pesticides now can be hard on the NCVs (nozzle control valves),” Pattison said.
“On the front drop we have a turret that runs through the NCV so it has five positions you can store five nozzles per turret.”
Raven’s Autoboom is used for boom height control for the Sniper.
A significant feature is the stainless steel recirculation wet boom.
“When you enter the field and your tank is full but your wet booms are empty, all you have to do is engage your pump and that will immediately prime the wet booms. We don’t have to turn on any nozzles to get rid of any air in the pump so we don’t waste any products at the headland or at the beginning of the field. We can just start spraying,” Pattison said.
For the clean-out processes, the Sniper has a 100-gallon rinse tank. Operators open a valve to introduce fresh water to the product pump and then they can rinse out the main tank.
“With the recirculation system, we can do something called a continuous rinse, so as you’re pumping in fresh water, we can also pump it right away so it doesn’t’ build up in the system. That allows us to flush it out with less water,” Pattison said.
The Sniper has a 1,600-gallon stainless steel product tank, and 800 series tires for flotation and to reduce compaction.
The sprayer is powered by two auxiliary hydraulic, one for the pump and the other for boom controls, and Connect recommends at least a 200 horsepower tractor to pull the unit.
Connect will install a high current wiring harness in the tractor for the sprayer to plug into.
Pattison said the Sniper will reduce the amount of hours producers put on their high-clearance sprayers, which depreciate on a per hour basis.
“We designed this machine to do all applications up to desiccation. If you want to go out and do a pre-burn off, apply liquid fertilizer and even some in-crop herbicide when the crop is pretty small,” Pattison said.
The sprayer has a crop clearance of about 35 inches, but the tractors that pull the Sniper typically have a crop clearance of about 20 inches.
Pattison said the unit will cost less than $200,000.
The Sniper is expected to be available for pre-order in the middle of November, for delivery in the spring of 2021.