The new kid on the block in farm country is the farmer-owned self-propelled sprayer. Sales of these machines are currently up by single-digit percentages.
Manufacturers are reaching out to this growing market by offering new models, advanced technologies, wider spray booms, faster spray speeds and greater capacities.
"Our best-selling model to the farmer–owner market is the 4730," says Craig Weynand, John Deere division marketing manager. "The features on that machine that farmers respond to are the ride and suspension, speed of application and the boom stability."
To appeal to the farmer–owner, AGCO has improved the suspension on their line of Spra-Coupe models.
When farmers add a self-propelled machine, technology adoption is paired with that investment.
"There is a high adoption rate of technology in the commercial market, but there's also a high adoption for farmers," Weynand explains. "All of our 4000 Series sprayers have the GreenStar 2 system installed, and in units bought by farmers about 60% to 70% add precision guidance."
Precision agriculture technologies can provide section control, automatic section shut off, variable-rate prescription application and documentation.
Late-season spray. Another advantage of self-propelled sprayers is the availability of high-clearance models.
A production trend that is putting the spotlight on high-clearance machines is late-season fungicide applications on corn.
"High-clearance sprayers haven't been a mainstream item, but they are slowly becoming more demanded," says Bob Schnell, sprayer product manager for Miller-St. Nazianz. "With this trend of applying fungicide in corn that has definitely increased interest in our machines."
High-clearance manufacturers, such as Miller and Hagie, offer multi-tasking sprayers with optional sidedressing toolbar attachments.
A new entrant in the self-propelled market is Redball. The company introduced its first self-propelled sprayer, an extension of its pull-type rigs, at the 2007 National Farm Machinery Show. In early 2008, Redball announced Wil-Rich as the exclusive marketer of the Redball strip-till equipment line.
"We are going to focus on our range of sprayers, and primarily we want to hang our hat on self-propelled models with efficient and reliable features," says Grant Lien, Redball product marketing manager.
Although the advantages of a self-propelled sprayer abound, so do the maintenance and service requirements.
"These are complicated, sophisticated machines," says John Deere's Weynand. "Our customers tell us that the level of support for these machines is extremely important."
Specifically for self-propelled sprayer customers, machinery companies, such as John Deere and Case IH, certify their dealerships as being trained in sprayer service and maintenance. AGCO offers aligned service under the Ag-Chem brand at 22 Caterpillar dealerships for customers operating RoGator and TerraGator models.
As self-propelled sprayer sales continue to boom, expect to see further product development and support.
You can email Margy Fischer at email@example.com.