Self-Propelled Propositions

December 16, 2010 08:22 AM
 
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Self-propelled sprayers are a hot-ticket item. The past few crop seasons have validated the importance of well-timed herbicide applications. More producers find that owning a sprayer ensures their acres get covered in the appropriate application window.

“The self-propelled sprayer business has grown tremendously,” says Jim Walker, Case IH vice president for North American ag business.

Not only does owning a sprayer put control in the farmer’s hands, but outfitting the machine with precision technologies enhances ease of use, efficiency and profitability.

Boom height sensors were part of the first wave of precision technology used on sprayers to simplify operation for farmers. These systems keep the boom height consistent and prevent the boom from gouging into the ground or the emerged crop while allowing faster machine speeds.

Today, boom height sen-sors are standard features on most models.

“The past few years have seen a big increase in sprayers being out-fitted with precision ag components,” says Micah Eidem, product manager for Trimble.

“It started with more sprayers having guidance, then stepped up to assisted steering and mapping
capabilities. Now, the big trend is for application control and variable-rate application.”

Larger booms, greater tank capacity and more comfortable cabs make sprayers easier to operate for longer periods of time—as does integrating precision technologies on a sprayer. Those technologies are also stepping-stones to higher adoption rates.

“We are approaching 60% of our machines being outfitted with Raven AccuBoom from the factory,” says Matt Hays, CEO of Equipment Technologies.

Equipment Technologies, the Mooresville, Ind., manufacturer of Apache sprayers, reports that 80% of its annual retail sales are to farmer owners.

AccuBoom and other boom sec-tion control products provide the operator with automatic boom shutoff to reduce application overlap in the field. Some operators report that the payback for a boom control system was realized in just one year.

Trimble cites research that indicates a 5% to 7% decrease in overapplied product when sprayers are paired with an automatic boom shutoff section.

Tailored precision. As precision ag becomes more popular, companies are answering the call by customizing their machines for their farmer customers. For example, Trimble’s line of
Field-IQ products are flexible control options that allow farmers to maximize the usefulness of existing components. They can replace their controller, select a full platform kit that fits directly onto current control components on self-propelled sprayers and have the flexibility to connect via full harness to a la carte flow and application components that are not all of the same make.

The high percentage of precision ag adoption isn’t just apparent in the number of equipment orders; it is also evident in customer support demand. “Probably 70% of the calls to our customer service lines are for help in calibrating precision ag components,” Hays says.

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