Sometimes you just know when a piece of kit is right.....

Kit is right

.. so says Bob Beard of C.R. Beard Farmers Ltd, farming near Sutton-on-Trent, Notts, who, after 14 years of use, reluctantly parted company last year with his 18 metre UF1201 Amazone sprayer for something different, in his case a 24 metre UF1201 Amazone sprayer!

Farming around 450 acres of combinable crops and sugar beet on a mixture of blow-away sand to something horrid and heavy alongside the River Trent, the old sprayer purchased in 1999, was covering roughly a couple of thousand acres a year and so did well over 30,000 acres before moving on, ‘We never put a valve on it, or a hydraulic pipe, nothing. It had an odd pump diaphragm and then eventually a new pump altogether but apart from that we didn’t spend a penny on it in all those years,’ comments Mr. Beard. ‘We had looked at other makes before we bought it but what we liked about the Amazone was the arrangement of the booms behind the tank. It wasn’t wrapped around tractor and there was nothing dripping off the sprayer onto the tractor, or me, when getting in and out the cab.’

Spraying at 100 litres/ha, and running on 03 nozzles - either Teejet flat fan or Billericay air inclusion - depending on the application, the machine sits nicely at around 12-15 km/h on the back of what was a John Deere 6410 which has subsequently been updated to a 6630; the tractor is switched over from 16.9” tyres down to row crops in the spring for running in the beet. With the four section boom fold, the machine can be just folded in enough to get past a pole meaning that the wider width boom is still just as flexible.

‘Even at these sorts of speeds the boom ride is exceptional and you just know that the chemical is being put on right. The 1,200 litre tank capacity means that at our water rates we can cope with most of our field sizes in a tank full. We always come back to the yard to fill where we have the ability to store chemicals and have a dedicated filling area as well as sucking water in from a storage tank located there. The farm buildings are pretty well central to the land for travelling,’ explains Mr. Beard.

A switch in drill policy in autumn 2013 over to a 4.8m wide tine seeder was the driver to swopping the existing 18 metre machine up to 24m ‘There wasn’t anything wrong with the old one but we needed to match the tramline width with 5 passes of the drill and so we moved out to 24 metres last autumn,’ Mr. Beard goes on to clarify, ‘Plus the fact that we are now going through the crop more and more, what with spraying off stale seedbeds three times as well as flea beetle treatment.’ The new 24 metre machine, supplied by Moore Farm Services Ltd at Harworth, which can also spray as standard at both 12 and 18m sprayer as well, was used at 18 metres to finish off the rest of the 2013 spray programme before harvest. ‘The installation and back-up we have enjoyed from David Moore has been second to none and this also goes a long way towards having faith in the product you are buying,’ praised Mr. Beard.

The opportunity was then also taken to have a bit more sophistication on the new sprayer with a step up from an AMASET+ to the AMASPRAY+ terminal in the cab. This means speed-related application rate control as well as DUS boom recirculation for purging the booms with diluted chemical on the headlands as well as being able to wash out the booms back to tank with a full tank of chemical if needs be. ‘We are so accurate to the required dose rate now with the new box in the cab and, along with the digital tank level indicator, we can put in just enough to finish the field and have nothing left to wash out afterwards.’

When Amazone caught up with Mr. Beard the sprayer was just finishing off some late manganese application before being put away for the winter and the verdict on that decision to buy the first Amazone 16 years ago: ‘I’m 100% satisfied with the machine and this new one has all the makings of a similar level of reliability.’ The old one, being just 14 years old and so only just being run in, has found a new home in the south where hopefully it will continue to offer many more years of good service.

And it is safe to say that Will Smith from Derbyshire is in agreement “In its 9 years of use the sprayer still looked as good as new” commented Mr. Smith

Back in 2005 William Smith had a decision to make and as it turned it out, it was relatively easy decision to make. Farming 450 acres near Church Broughton, Mr. Smith was after a new 24m mounted sprayer that had a neatly folding boom and a narrow transport width. Any sprayer with booms folding alongside the tractor cab were ruled out due to the tight twisty lanes with over-hanging trees, which would have spelled disaster for the boom and its nozzles. One such sprayer that did tick all the boxes was the Amazone UF 1501 with its Super-S boom. ‘What drew me to the sprayer was how the booms folded so neatly behind the sprayer keeping them out of harms way when travelling down the road – and keeping the weight close to the back of the tractor. This was the main reason why I bought the sprayer.’

So after 9 years of use and covering a mixture of winter wheat, barley, spring oats and oilseed rape, it is safe to say that Mr. Smith has been impressed with how his UF 1501 has performed. ‘the sprayer had covered a little over 22,000 acres and still looked as good as new’.

Spring 2014 however saw the UF 1501 leave the farm. ‘The reason for change was that I was after more capacity’ said Mr. Smith. So were any other makes of sprayer considered? ‘No,’ says Mr. Smith ‘with the build quality of the Amazone, I was always going to have another one.’

After looking at a UF 1801 to get the increased capacity he was after, Mr. Smith decided instead to go with a UF 1201 with front tank. ‘I was amazed that, for not much extra money I could carry an extra 400 litres but weigh less overall as I didn’t have to carry a fairly hefty weight block on the front of the tractor, plus the weight distribution is far better and on my heavy red clay soils I always have to think about compaction.’

The beauty of the FT1001 front tank is the patented FlowControl system that means the filling, mixing, agitation, transfer and cleaning is all carried out automatically via the AMATRON 3 in-cab terminal. Water is sucked in and the chemical inducted in the normal way via the rear sprayer tank but then the FlowControl system automatically moves the spray liquid forward to fill the front tank and then, in the field, it circulates constantly the back tank contents with the front to ensure a heterogeneous mix between the two tanks. As the spray application goes on, the control box knows the tank levels in both tanks and automatically transfers from front to back to keep the rear tank contents at around about 400 litres minimum until both tanks are empty. Washing the sprayer out at the end of the day is all carried out from the terminal and covers both tanks together.

Normally spraying at between 120 – 150l/ha using a set of 035 Guardian Air nozzles, the extra capacity the UF 1201 and front tank offer means that when called for Mr. Smith can spray at these slightly higher volumes but still cover a decent acreage and, if necessary, it also provides the option of going down the liquid fertiliser route which is currently under consideration. And after having two Amazone UF sprayers, the verdict is that the Super-S boom comes in for particular praise, ‘I just couldn’t fault it, it showed no signs of deterioration, slack or free play, the strength and quality of the boom really has impressed me. I’ve had other makes of sprayer in the past and none have held up nearly as well’.