Updates to Hardi’s range of agricultural and specialist sprayers were announced at an event held in Leicestershire in mid-December
Updates to Hardi’s range of agricultural and specialist sprayers were announced at an event held in Leicestershire in mid-December. Thick fog and conditions just above freezing prevailed throughout the day, but, despite the weather, there was an excellent attendance by the company’s dealers from all over the UK. Farmers Guide machinery editor David Williams was at the event. The Hardi sprayer event held in Leicestershire in mid-December attracted dealers from all over the UK.
Attracting most attention was the updated Commander trailed sprayer range. The Commander series was launched in 1996, with capacities of 2,200 or 2,600 litres. In 1999 the range was uprated with larger 2,800, 3,200 and 4,200 litre versions. In 2000, options including electronic steering and a wider 36m alloy boom were introduced, and in 2006 more technology in the form of intelligent controls became available.
Hardi is now offering the Commander with four new tank sizes; 3,300, 4,500, 5,500 and 7,000 litres, and booms up to 42m will be available. A new tank design ensures complete emptying even when working on slopes, and buyers can select from four boom ranges. Controls and performance are also improved.
The chassis is based on the original design, but extended for better stability and ride; 50cm for the 3,300 and 4,500 and 80cm for the 5,500 and 7,000 models. Hydraulic axle suspension is standard on both the 5,500 and 7,000 litre and is optional across the rest of the range, and a suspended drawbar is standard on the 5,500 and 7,000 litre versions. A hydraulic drop leg is standard on the two larger models and a vertical-operating hydraulic support leg an option on the rest. The most eagerly-anticipated new product was the latest Commander trailed sprayer which included four new models with capacities from 3,300-7,000 litres and design features to improve performance and increase output.
Under the chassis improvements include underbelly protection and hydraulic trailing arm axle suspension, to optimise clearance and protect the crop. Hardi’s SafeTrack steering system uses an articulated link at the rear between the chassis and the axle – the boom mounted on the steered axle section ensuring it is always perpendicular to the direction of tramlines.The new Commander sprayers feature a new safety locker and a more efficient induction system.SafeTrack ensures the sprayer wheels follow tramlines during headland turns but incorporates a safety mode which automatically straightens the axle if the driver attempts to turn tightly at too high a speed. It also locks the axle straight ahead in transport mode.Hardi claims a turning radius down to 6m for the 3,300 litre sprayer, and 9m for the 7,000 litre at working speeds with SafeTrack fitted.
Boom options include the Delta in widths of 18-28m, the Force in widths 24-36m, the Twin Force from 20-36m and the Terra Force from 36-42m. The booms are mounted on a parallel linkage system, which pivots over the rear axle.
A new feature of the sprayers, designed to save down-time, is the use of PrimeFlow 2G nozzle controllers incorporating LED indicators, with different colours displayed, to indicate correct operation or faults.
The top of the range Terra Force booms have a lattice design to support the weight, and the sections lock hydraulically in position. Fold and unfold is progressive, and the break-back system has damping to protect the assembly.For the Terra Force booms, there are two management options; DynamicCenter which has mechanical adjustment and is controlled from the tractor cab, and which allows the boom to be set for between 10 and 80 per cent sprayer following.AutoTerrain is automatic and works and reacts to both boom movements and twisting forces on the boom. Hardi claims this allows the system to be proactive, reacting on the cause rather than the symptom. AutoTerrain uses an ultrasonic sensor which measures the distance between two pins, one of which is on a spring-loaded body. This moves up and down depending on the boom torque and provides the proactive operation. The smallest of the new Commanders; the 3,300 litre version.
New boom height control cylinders are fitted and height is adjustable from 40-220cm. A time-saving improvement, which should also ensure a longer working life, is remote greasing allowing all the joints to be lubricated from a single point near the rear axle.
The new tanks with their deep central sump empty totally on slopes up to 10 degrees, and have a completely new agitation system which automatically reduces its action as the tank empties, preventing foaming. A new AutoWash programme on the in-cab control allows the operator to clean out the tank, just by selecting the relevant programme. Two nozzles clean inside the tank, very effectively preventing cross-contamination, said Hardi.
There is a new 500 litre rinse tank, mounted directly over the rear axle. Control location is improved, a new WorkZone sealed side cabinet housing controls for the primary functions, as well as a clean water tap and the safety equipment.
Sprayer filling is easier due to an improved induction hopper incorporating a TurboFiller, where a deflector within the hopper creates a powerful swirl and ensures chemicals are quickly mixed and transferred to the tank. The induction bowl is designed to create a powerful swirl effect, improving mixing and speeding up tank filling.
Buyers can select from a range of pump capacities; 276 or 322 litres per minute for the 3,300 and 4,500 litre models, and 322 or 598 litres per minute on the larger models. Working with the pumps is an all-new flow rate control system. DynamicFluid4 adjusts the flow almost instantly, responding to demand. The very simple design uses a ceramic disc valve, which rotates to increase or decrease flow.A FeedForward system makes adjustments to the rate before spraying commences, and as soon as the nozzles are turned on, the flow rate is checked, and the disc rotated as necessary ensuring precise metering. This means that at any time the flow is turned on, for example after each headland turn, the flow is already set at the right dosage for application.The regulation is updated 20 times per second, and it will adjust to any spraying situation within three seconds, taking only 12 seconds to rotate the 90 degrees from full rate of flow to minimum. Hardi said the new regulation valve is designed to cope with different driving styles as well as the challenges of working with modern CVT transmissions, and rate adjustment is from 0-500 litres per minute.
DynamicFluid4 sensors measure pump flow, regulator valve pressure, active boom width and speed to calculate precisely the flow required through either its HC65 or 9500 controllers. Hardi said it developed the technology to provide better performance than traditional fluid control systems which apply the fluid and then measure the volume rate, resulting in a delay to the correction of the flow.
Further improving performance is a new plumbing system, all 90 degree bends removed, reducing internal resistance. Large improvements to total flow rate have been made possible because when spraying the fluid doesn’t travel through the valve, but flows direct from the pump to the booms. By calculating the flow needed, the system prioritises for the volume needed at the booms, the excess available for agitation through 27 in-tank nozzles, with agitation reduced if the highest boom flow rates are needed.
All Commander sprayers now come with the HC6500 control screen as standard equipment with the HC9500 available as an upgrade, or there are Isobus-compatible options for suitably equipped tractors. The HC9500 uses a 20-inch screen and will accept up to four camera inputs. Automatic section control is standard and Hardi says it is compatible with almost any GPS system. The new Commander range was launched officially at Lamma 2013 and all models are available to order now. The new Commander is available with Hardi’s HC6500 control screen as standard, or the optional 20 inch HC9500 pictured.Fruit crop sprayer
Also being launched at the dealer day was a new version of Hardi’s specialist Mini-Variant sprayer. Designed for use with specialist fruit crops, the mist sprayer will operate vertically or horizontally, and the versatile design is said to appeal to strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant producers. Hardi has reintroduced its Mini-Variant mist sprayer, which was discontinued 15 years ago. Featuring many updates including a better control system and fan, the new version retains all the functionality of the previous model, and will appeal to those growing top fruit and soft fruit.
The updated sprayer replaces a previous model discontinued 15 years ago. “The market declined and we stopped production but have always provided parts and service back-up for users,” explained Hardi customer service and after sales development manager Paul Davis.”Users have been asking us to bring out an updated version with many of the machines in use due for replacement. The new model has a higher capacity pump with six diaphragms and fully electronic controls, and there is the option of an automatic rate controller allowing the user to dial in the required application rate, flow and speed sensors matching performance to achieve that rate.”
As well as the larger pump, the new mounted version has a larger capacity tank up to 1,200 litres and a fully hydraulic boom, while, for those needing more capacity, trailed versions up to 4,000 litres are available. A re-designed fan unit provides better airflow.Operating widths are up to 8m, with offsets available for working in poly tunnels. Guy Hickman of Agrimec based in Ledbury has been supplying Hardi sprayers since 1971, with most of his customers in the Shropshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire areas.As well as sprayers the company supplies apple handling equipment. “Sprayers are a big part of our business,” he said. “We do arable and fruit sprayers and specialise in sprayers for top fruit and soft fruit. We sold the original Mini-Variants and believe the new version will appeal to both previous owners and new users.
“It’s a directional sprayer and the quality of spray for fruit treatments is very good. It can be set up to aim accurately at the targets, and with its air assistance there is good penetration. We are pleased to see its return,” he added.
Guy commented that his business enjoys an excellent relationship with Hardi. “Hardi is well known as a specialist sprayer manufacturer and it provides excellent service to its distributors. That is important as it allows us to pass on that service to our customers. The machines are made to an exceptionally high standard, but parts back-up when required is excellent. Its expertise makes it a top company to deal with.
“It’s been a useful day seeing all the latest sprayers, and hearing about the new technology. The new Commander looks excellent and we would expect that in our trading area models with capacities up to 5,500 litres with 24m booms will be most popular.”