A new Chafer self-propelled sprayer, the Multidrive FC, has been added to the company’s range and made its public debut at Lamma.
A new Chafer self-propelled sprayer, the Multidrive FC, has been added to the company’s range and made its public debut at Lamma. It was demonstrated to press on a Norfolk farm in late December, as Farmers Guide machinery editor David Williams reports. Standard specification includes a range of steering modes. Farmers Guide had the opportunity to take an early test drive.
Chafer claims a 15 per cent market share of all trailed sprayers sold in the UK, and 26 per cent of trailed units over 24m, with 22 manufacturers competing for sales. Since Chafer purchased its sprayer business from Norsk Hydro, it has expanded its range and its manufacturing capability and enjoys a strong demand from overseas markets too; its machines exported to countries including Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Russia, Latvia and Lithuania. Chafer is a well-known and respected name in the self-propelled sprayer market although, up until now, its involvement has been mainly supplying complete de-mount sprayers for use with a variety of chassis units; primarily by Multidrive, Mercedes Benz and Challenger, and supplied through the relevant dealer networks.It also manufactures the boom assemblies for Challenger Rogator sprayers, the finished sprayer available through the Challenger dealer network as well as through Chafer. “We wanted to maintain our ability to supply a full line up of equipment,” explained Chafer commercial manager Rob Starkey.”We have a very loyal customer base and we needed to be able to supply our own self-propelled sprayer solely through our own dealer network. We have no intention to start building vehicles, and prefer to leave that to those who have the necessary experience and ability.The Multidrive vehicles are well-proven and the quality of design and build is excellent. Sales of our spray pack to fit the Multidrive 6195 have been growing during the past five years, and our experience working with the manufacturer made it the natural choice of partner.” The new sprayer is the result of a joint development programme between Multidrive, a subsidiary of Kellands Agricultural, and Chafer, and it is being marketed exclusively through the Chafer dealer network in the UK. “It’s a very important step for us having our own machine to bring to the market,” said Rob.”Chafer will continue manufacturing sprayers and components for other manufacturers. That is a very important part of our business, and by offering the new sprayer only through our own dealers we believe it won’t conflict with our existing business.”
The Chafer Multidrive FC is based on the well-proven Multidrive 6195 chassis, which has the engine in front of the cab, but the new sprayer has a forward cab position, which, as well as improving the operator environment, has meant space for a larger capacity tank and better weight distribution between front and rear axles. The sprayer unit can be de-mounted easily if required. Towing capacity with an optional hitch is up to 18t, making it suitable for towing a large bowser when the optional hydraulic and air trailer brakes are fitted.
Two 12t capacity axles take the load, and, as with all Multidrive vehicles, mechanical-based transmissions are used rather than hydrostatic; the new sprayer having a six-speed ZF powershift unit driven through a torque converter and offering automatic or manual shuttle-shift modes. Two- or four-wheel drive can be selected, and there is a lockable centre differential for operating in very tough conditions, as well as lockable differentials on both front and rear axles. Power is provided by a six-cylinder 195hp John Deere Powertech engine, located directly behind the cab. Load sensitive air suspension is fitted, and new wet-immersed multi disc brakes are fitted to cope with the increased capacity and speeds up to 50kph. The operator can select two- or four-wheel (or crab) steering, and there are two selectable rear steer delay modes too, the rear steering operating only after the front wheels are turned more than 10 degrees, allowing the rear wheels to track accurately behind the fronts.
Various tyre options are available and Multidrive sales manager, Keith Pashley said the company expects most sprayers to be supplied with two sets of wheels and tyres; one for flotation work and the other for rowcrop. Recommended tyres are Michelin Axio Bibs which use the company’s Ultraflex technology to ensure maximum ground contact, flotation options including 620/75R30 or slightly wider 650/75R30, and narrow options; 340/85R46 or 380/90R46.
The forward cab has a very modern space-age appearance, but is actually an updated and improved version of the unit fitted previously to the Kelland Agribuggy machines. It offers very good visibility, especially mounted up high on the front of the new sprayer. The front screen is tinted, and curved for reduced reflection, and there is a large rear-hinged side access door. A dual-ventilation system and air conditioning are standard, and there is under-floor heating too.
Control of all driving and spraying operations is via a console on the operator’s right, a large joystick used to select travel direction and gear ratio, as well as for selection of manual or auto transmission. Application is controlled through the standard RDS system which adjusts rate to match forward speed, and can be upgraded to full section control. A Muller Isobus control system is available as an option, allowing everything to be controlled from one terminal.
The new chassis layout has not just provided space for larger capacity tanks, but also for longer lower tanks, increasing stability. Tanks are stainless steel, which Chafer explained provides increased durability as well as ease of cleaning over other materials, and capacities are 3,000, 4,000 or 5,000 litres, all tanks fitted with baffles. Clean water tanks are provided to match the main tank size with 300, 400 or 500 litres capacity.
Boom widths from 24 to 40m are available and the Chafer Contour system, which automatically adjusts the boom incline according to changes in slope and crop canopy, is an optional upgrade. The long chassis and forward control cab position means there is plenty of space for a long, low tank to maximise stability, while a short 3.8m wheelbase helps increase manoeuvrability.
The sprayer being demonstrated was the first off the production line, and had been ordered by Norfolk-based contractor Clive Walker. Clive carries out all types of spraying for farms in the area but the business was originally started five years ago to apply fertiliser for Omex, and approximately 80 per cent of his work is for the company. Most of Clive’s spraying is for potato growers, and the sprayer can travel up to 150 miles per day on the road travelling between farms. “My previous sprayer was a Chafer mounted on a Multidrive and it had worked approximately 7,000 hours in about four years,” he said. “I apply P and K to 4,000-5,000 hectares (9,800-12,000 acres) outside East Anglia, as far away as Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and timing is critical so I depend on the sprayer to be totally reliable and efficient. I like the reassurance of the mechanical transmission when I am travelling that far on the road and the new sprayer has several advantages such as the lower and more central tank which should improve stability and ride.”
Until the day of the press launch Clive had not seen the finished machine, but had worked closely with Chafer during its design and build. “I was impressed with the specification, and having seen the proposed cab design on the computer screen, it appeared to be ideal for my use. My experience of both Multidrive and Chafer meant I had faith in what the companies were doing so I was quite happy to order the first unit to be built, without seeing it first. I have sold my own sprayer privately, and was pleased with the price I achieved for it. It had held its value well. Now I have seen the new sprayer finished. I am very happy – it looks excellent and I am looking forward to using it.”
Clive’s sprayer is designed and equipped primarily for high-rate fertiliser application and equipment includes a three-inch centrifugal pump and three-inch stainless steel plumbing. Pump capacity is up to 1,200 litres per minute providing a quick fill time, with a loading rate of 850-900 litres per minute. One spray line is used to feed both nozzles and the dribble bars with air-activated valves changing the flow direction.
Although conditions at the demonstration were very wet, there was an opportunity for Farmers Guide to take a test drive in the new sprayer. The cab access steps rotate sideways when not in use, alongside the floor of the cab. Operation is either manual, or the steps can be programmed to operate with the handbrake to avoid mishaps. An air suspension seat is standard and across the test field soaked up the bumps effectively, and the front screen, which curves top to bottom, results in a large gap between the steering column and the screen, making the cab feel extremely spacious. Visibility is excellent and the long chassis meant the folded boom was well back from the cab and had very little effect on the view from the side windows or the large mirrors.
The John Deere engine is directly behind the cab but a major improvement compared with the Agribuggy cab is the use of an insulated back panel and double-glazed rear window to cut down on noise and heat from the power unit. In fact, even when accelerating quite hard, there was little engine noise within the cab, the sound of the roof-mounted blower more noticeable.
The test drive was quite limited but the basic controls took little getting used to, and the machine handled well and felt very stable. Steering is impressive; the 3.8m wheelbase providing a tight turning circle, and the front cab adding to the feeling of manoeuvrability. The transmission is easy to use in auto and manual modes, the button on the joystick pressed while the lever is pushed forward or rear to select the direction of travel. For manual shifting the joystick is pushed to the left or right. Speed control is via the foot throttle, a decent-sized pedal well suited to operation with muddy wellies, and the foot brake along-side it is even larger, providing a sense of security. In both manual and automatic transmission modes the gear shifting is quite smooth and there is a good overlap of speeds in each gear so that when driving in auto mode the transmission isn’t constantly shifting, even as the speed and conditions vary, changes only occurring when there are significant changes to travel speed or conditions.
My only criticism was the passenger seat, which in contrast to the operator seat is very compact. It has little padding and provides limited space for the occupant. However, with operators likely to spend very long hours in the driving seat, allocating maximum comfort and space for the driver is logical, and the storage space provided for essentials such as spray records and tools is good, reducing clutter.
The Chafer Multidrive FC is now available to order and prices start at approximately 160,000. Amistar sprayer
Chafer also used the occasion to launch its Amistar sprayer, which has been designed at the request of Grimme for the application of Amistar (azoxystrobin) in the furrow at planting for control of stem canker, black scurf and black dot.
The sprayer is designed to keep the chemical in suspension during planting and to provide application control rates ensuring accuracy. Two versions of the sprayer are available.
The base specification allows water and Amistar to be mixed to the required dilution ratio in the 120 litre main tank while an agitation system keeps the chemical in suspension. A secondary 13 litre tank holds clean water ready for rinsing of the main tank and spray lines after planting. This unit is described by Chafer as a simple, cost-effective system.
A more sophisticated version uses a mechanical dosing system to mix the Amistar with water at the point of spraying. This means the main tank holds clean water only, used for spraying as well as rinsing of the system. A further advantage of the unit is that the Amistar tank is filled through a transfer receiver, avoiding the need for any exposure of the operator to the chemical, and, when spraying is finished, any remaining undiluted Amistar can be drained back for storage and future use.
Both versions include separate hand-wash tanks, easily accessible filters and visual spray pressure and tank contents gauges.
On both models, spray application is via an electrically-driven piston diaphragm pump, and the rate is either set manually with the machine driven at a constant speed, or an optional automatic rate control system which adjusts rate to match travel speed is available.
Amistar sprayers are available with mounting kits to suit the Grimme GL32B, GB215 and new GB330 planters, but Chafer explained that the brackets could be easily modified for use on other machines. Horstine Microband Air updated
New products from Horstine included an updated version of its Microband Air which is used for the application of granular insecticides during planting. The new unit will work with two and three-row planters, and has been developed in conjunction with Grimme in response to the company’s latest addition to its planter range; the GB330 three-row planter (see below). The new unit will be available through the network of Grimme dealers and is being supplied in Grimme colours.Horstine’s new Microband Air applicator is designed for Grimme planters and supplied in Grimme colours.
Mounted at the rear of the planter, it has a 70 litre stainless steel hopper and is easily switched between two- and three-row applications to suit use. A high capacity electric fan, driven from the tractor, blows the chemical through tubes down into the furrow. Calibration is straightforward, claims the company, a slide mechanism allowing a calibration tray to be installed, while the operator activates a calibration switch which rotates the metering mechanism and counts its revolutions. The chemical dispensed is weighed and the result entered into the Horstine Wizard controller, which then sets its own application speed negating the need for the operator to calculate drive and sprocket ratios.
Once calibrated, the Horstine Wizard application controller allows the operator to set the application rate from within the tractor cab, and the system adjusts the metering automatically to maintain the rate, using either the tractor’s travel speed information or its own speed monitor. Prices start at 4,200.
Horstine Airstream changes
The Horstine Airstream pneumatic fertiliser applicator has been available since 2009, and having been well received by users, has now been updated for the 2013 season. Originally designed for precise placement of fertiliser for potato crops, the system has also found favour with oilseed rape growers particularly with the trend toward band sowing, and also with vegetable producers.
The new models offer larger capacities, up from 1,000 and 2,000 litres to 1,600 and 2,200 litres in response to demand from users. The new hoppers have steeper sides, providing better flow of material to the metering system, and there are low level sensors to indicate when the hopper is nearly empty. Updated versions of the Horstine Airstream fertiliser distributor feature increased capacity and many design improvements in response to customer requests.
There is a six-outlet metering unit powered by a groundspeed-related hydraulic drive. A hydraulic-driven fan blows directly into the metering unit, and a new convenient feature is the ability to shut off the flow from the hopper to the metering assembly, allowing the metering system to be emptied of material for short-term storage, even with fertiliser remaining in the hopper, helping to prevent blockages.
Metering is controlled by an RDS Wizard system as standard complete with a GPS speed sensor. An optional upgrade is the RDS Apollo rate controller for variable rate application, or an Isobus ECU for use with an Isobus terminal can be supplied. Prices start at 12,000. New Grimme three-row planter
The Chafer and Horstine product launch also provided an opportunity to inspect the new Grimme GB330 three-row trailed planter, with the new Microband Air mounted on the machine.
“We have seen a growing demand for three-row planters and, as a result, have introduced the GB330,” explained Grimme group sales manager Andrew Starbuck. “It has a 3t bunker and uses a belt feed mechanism,” he added.
“It is very versatile and can also operate as a two-row. We had test machines working last year, very successfully, and for this year have a limited production of 50 machines, 20 of which are coming to the UK which all have customers’ names on them.”
Grimme said the three row offers the potential for higher plant populations than the two row, and the belt drive system makes it ideal for the longer salad-type potato varieties for which demand is increasing, as well as coping well with the large variations in tuber size seen particularly in recent years and offering increased outputs over the cup planters too.
The new planter was displayed on the company’s stand at Lamma along with a range of Horstine applicators and orders are being taken for delivery in 2014. The retail price of the new planter is 57,000. Grimme has introduced the GB330 three-row potato planter in response to customer demand.