Pulling it around could be bottom line win

For all but fungicide or desiccating tall crops, a pull-type sprayer can have a role on many large, prairie grain operations

A few advanced pull-type sprayers have come onto the Canadian market recently, but do they still fit prairie crop production?

The transition to self-propelled sprayers has already occurred on most farms, but these new pull-type sprayers are far more capable compared to what your grandpa used to pull.

Application expert Tom Wolf said some of the large pull-type sprayers coming from the European market, such as the Horsch Leeb 12 TD and the Amazone UX11200 compare well in terms of productivity to self-propelled sprayers.

“Acres per hour, they stack up surprisingly well and they do this by having wide booms, large tanks and fast filling capabilities,” Wolf said.

“Those are the productivity indices.”

Pull-type sprayers have limiting aspects, not the least is the hitch.

The Horsch Leeb 12 TD has a two-tank system with 3,170 gallon capacity, tandem steering axles, parallelogram-based boom suspension that’s spring-loaded and damped hydraulically and it can be equipped with the Raven Hawkeye 2 nozzle control system that supports 192 nozzles and 10-inch nozzle spacing. | Horsch photo

“They still have a draw bar that makes them, you know, questionable for high crops. That’s really why pull-types aren’t that popular, nobody wants to go through a five-foot high canola with a two-foot high drawbar,” Wolf said.

Self-propelled sprayers are only really necessary in tall crops, and they are not needed for a burn down or for early herbicide applications.

So there may be room to add a pull-type sprayer on farms that are struggling to cover all of their acres with one self-propelled sprayer.

However, Wolf said some farms might not have the tractor that can handle these large sprayers.

“I think the point of getting these pull-types is to get the big ones. I think the days of the thousand gallon pull-type sprayers are indeed over.”

That means the typical yard tractors are not big enough to handle the large pull-type sprayers. You’ll be looking at the grain cart tractor to handle these rigs.

“Every single acre is probably going to get a burn off but you also have a seeder going. So then the question is, do I have the person power to have another sprayer or do I have the tractor available to do that? Do I need that same tractor for other things in, you know, in the spring operation? These are the logistical decisions that have to be made,” Wolf said.

“But it certainly makes sense to have a second sprayer for when a lot of acres are on the to-do list. And then later on in the season as you do your higher clearance stuff your fungicides or desiccants, not every acre gets those and also it tends to be a little bit more spread out as well.”

Mike Wasylyniuk of Horsch brought in the first Leeb 12 TD into the Canadian market this spring, after its European launch in 2020.

“Twelve stands for 12,000 litres. It actually can fit 12,700, (3,350 gallons) and the TD stands for tandem axle,” Wasylyniek said.

“If you’re carrying that many gallons around you’re going to want to have some weight distribution on there. You can get up to 650 tires on it.”

He said there are two main product tanks that help distribute the weight on the sprayer, because a problem with big sprayers is shifting weight causes issues in hills.

“All the water or chemical goes to the back of the sprayer. With this machine we empty the back of the sprayer first. So as you’re spraying the back tank empties first, and when you’re climbing a hill, you’re going to have all the weight on the back axle of your tractor.”

The two axles on Leeb 12 TD have brakes and can steer, which enables a passive steering functions where the sprayer wheels follow the tractor tracks.

“The back tires of the tractor and the back axle of the sprayer is going to follow the front tires of the tractor. So you’re still going to have those two tracks in your crop when you make your turn just like you would at the tractor or a sprayer,” Wasylyniuk said.

A second pump is included with the sprayer that enables a continuous clean-out system.

“We have clean water coming directly from the rinse tank to the nozzles with this second pump. The other thing is the boom is designed like our self-propelled sprayer boom, with ability to run it down low. We’re going to be running this boom probably 20 inches off the ground, the same as our VL (variable large) series.”

The boom has parallelogram suspension that is spring-loaded and damped hydraulically with active pneumatic control of the middle section to help keep the boom level.

The Leeb 12 TD can be equipped with booms up to 45 metres.

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.

Two nozzle control systems are available; Raven’s pulse width modulation nozzle control system called the Hawkeye 2 that supports 192 nozzles and higher rates compared to the previous Hawkeye system, and Horsch’s AutoSelect system.

“Just like our self-propelled we’re going at 10 inch spacing on the nozzles instead of the traditional 20 as an option with this. It gives you the ability to run that boom low, you’re still going to get the good coverage and also the ability to get 3D coverage when you run a 10 inch spacing like you can run a flat fan nozzle with the twin fan right beside it.”

He said the Leeb 12 TD can be operated as fast as 40 mph, and that the company recommends a tractor between 250 and 350 to pull the sprayer.

The Leeb 12 TD is ISOBUS compatible.

Amazone’s UX11200 has been on the Canadian market for years.

The Amazone UX 11201 trailed sprayer has a 2,950 gallon capacity, twin steering axles, booms up to 130 feet, a triple pump system with a suction capacity of 236 gallons per minute and AmaSelect that enables multiple nozzles at each nozzle body at the same time. | Amazone photo

The sprayer has 2,47 gallons of spray capacity and another 132 gallons of water on board for rinsing.

Fokko Buurma of Mid-Plains Implements is a distributor for the product in Canada and he said the sprayers come with tandem steering axles with brakes, 135-foot, recirculating booms and Amazone’s AmaSelect nozzle body system.

This nozzle control system switches between four nozzles, to ensure product is applied uniformly even around tight turns.

Pulse width modulation allows turn compensation in competing sprayers, but this technology is limited when product is applied through one nozzle.

The Amazone AmaSelect nozzle body has options in terms of which nozzles are activated, and each nozzle body across the boom can be individually controlled.

For instance, when spraying around a tight turn, a larger nozzle can be activated on the outside while a smaller nozzle will be used on the inside of the boom.

Operators can also spray using multiple nozzles at a time, and the system automatically changes the nozzles being used as the sprayer changes speed or turns.

“I’m just using some figures, you want to put on 10 gallons an acre and you’re traveling at one mile an hour, then it’ll have maybe just one nozzle going. As you go up in speed where that one nozzle can’t keep up with the volume, the second nozzle kicks in, and then the third,” Buurma said.

He said three nozzles in the AmaSelect system are typically dedicated for chemical application while the fourth nozzle is often for liquid fertilizer.

The UX11200 is ISOBUS compatible.

“The boom mount is totally separate basically from the frame structure of the machine like the frame structure that carries the tank and running gear and everything else. The boom is t-mounted on the triangle suspension hook up. So it allows it to follow the contour of the land.

“It has sensors on the boom that sense the depth of the boom to the ground all the time and it makes arrangements to hydraulically control the angle of the boom.”

The sprayer comes with three hydraulically driven product pumps.

“Depending on the speed you’re spraying at either use one or two pumps the faster you go the more product you need and the second pump kicks in, and the third pump does the circulation all the time and the agitation in the tank,” Buurma said.

Amazone is collaborating on advanced weed recognition technologies, which can be integrated into the UX11200 once it’s commercially available in North America. For instance, a system it’s developing will have a drone fly a field to identify weeds, and then the sprayer will follow and use the imagery from the drone and only apply chemical where weeds were detected.

“There’s a spot spring system that only sprays green. It can identify the weeds and only space them and not the whole bandwidth, you know stuff like that. You can load those things up with a lot of technology.”

Hardi updated its Navigator pull-type sprayer for the 2021 model year with its DynamicFluid4 regulation system, the same product it uses with its larger Commander series.

Hardi updated its mid-sized Navigator for the 2021 model year with its DynamicFluid4 regulation system, the same product it uses with its Commander series. | Hardi photo

“Up to now the rate controller really just looked at speed and pressure, a lot of our competition just looks at those two parameters. But now we’re looking at the rpm of the pump, looking at the pressure and the position of the regulation valve,” said Gary McCutcheon of Hardi.

He said the regulation valve used to have 13 revolutions to change it from maximum to minimum pressure, but it now has two pie shaped ceramic discs that move from fully open to closed in a quarter turn.

This enables it to quickly react and keep the spray pressure in the optimal zone, with the help of sensors that monitor the regulator valve’s position.

“It’s meeting the standard that they have in Europe to get back at the target rate when the parameter changes, like your ground speed or your pump rpm or something changes. You have to be back at your target rate in a really timely manner and this gets you there within about 3 seconds,” McCutcheon said.

“It knows that you have a hundred twenty foot boom and if all sudden half the boom shuts off or a couple sections, or whatever.”

On previous models, the Eagle Booms offered in 80 to 100 feet widths did not come with a negative tilt, but in the 2021 model year these booms can move 4 degrees below horizontal.

“If the centre machine is up on level ground and its level to the left hand side, but if say the hill slopes off to the right then without negative tilt that boom can be, you know, 10 feet in the air depending on how severe the slope is,” McCutcheon said.

The optional Delta Force booms are offered in widths of 90 to 132 feet.

In 2019 Hardi launched its Navigator I, which also closed the gap between its high-end and mid-level trailed sprayers by offering features that had previously only been available on the Commander lineup.

Some of the features on Navigator I includes a four stage auto-washout with the push of a button, auto fill, Prime Flow circulating booms, individual nozzle control and AutoSelect that allows operators to use two sizes of nozzles at the same time when their ground speed is highly variable.

The Navigator is available with multiple tank capacities, up to 1,600 gallons.

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 have recently been significant strides in the spraying industry, including the new Raven Hawkeye 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.

“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.

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 hydraulics, one for the pump and the other for boom controls, and Connect recommends at least a 200 horsepower tractor to pull the unit.

Pattison said the Sniper will reduce the number of hours producers put on their high-clearance sprayers, which depreciate on a per hour basis.

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.

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