A new range of trailed sprayers has been announced by Chafer
A new range of trailed sprayers has been announced by Chafer, ahead of its official launch at Cereals in June. David Williams reports.
The new sprayers replace the existing trailed models, but retain the same names; Guardian with capacities from 3,000-4,000 litres and Sentry from 4,000-6,000. Reflecting demands from different user types there are two main specifications in each range; Standard and a higher ‘e’-spec.
All models from the base up feature multiple upgrades from the earlier trailed models, including an all-new chassis layout, and more efficient plumbing systems as well as a new tank design providing better stability. All have an improved induction hopper, which makes it easier and quicker to fill the sprayer, together with new controls, which reduce the likelihood of errors.
According to the Lincolnshire-based manufacturer, the market for trailed sprayers in the UK has remained fairly static since the current range was introduced in 2006, with approximately 250 units supplied during 2014. Despite several big brand names entering the market during recent years, Chafer’s market share has increased; in 2006 the company’s products accounted for just two per cent of trailed sprayers over 24m, and five per cent of sprayers under 24m. The 2014 season saw this share increase to 22 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.
The new sprayers have improved performance on and off road, and a wider range of boom and control options to suit modern farms.
“We try to make ourselves very approachable and, as well as the sales staff, customers can talk with our design and workshop staff to discuss their particular needs,” explained managing director Chris Allen. “We don’t build for stock. Every sprayer is custom-built and our sprayers have an excellent reputation for build quality and performance resulting in strong residual values which reduce the cost of ownership and the cost per acre sprayed. We are becoming more significant in the UK market and although the current range of sprayers is well-liked, we know the new sprayers are significantly better and are very excited about the opportunity to explain all the new features to potential users at Cereals in June. From the base specification upward, all types of user will see improvements, including our widest boom yet available as an option.”
Better for field and road
New features shared by all models are new chassis and tanks, providing extra strength and a lower centre of gravity. A wider range of hitch options is available and there is a new 65kph axle option with brakes and capability to handle the largest versions at speed. A steering axle is standard and air suspension is as previous models.
A lower centre of gravity and lower folded boom height adds to stability.
Improvements to the plumbing include larger diameter pipework; up from 2 to 3in, and a higher-capacity hydraulically-driven centrifugal pump providing flow rates of up to 600 litres/min – up 50 per cent from previous models. This means the sprayers are easily capable of high application rates for tasks such as liquid fertiliser application at forward speeds which were previously unattainable. The company quotes typical application speeds of 14kph compared witj 10kph previously. A regulating valve assembly returns any excess flow from the pump back to the tank, ensuring accurate control of pressure and flow, while maximising service intervals for the pump. All pipe and component fixings now use fork-type connectors rather than the previous threaded type, and the company says this will speed up servicing and repairs considerably.
Another key feature is an all-new induction hopper with 45 litres capacity on all models, up from 30-35 previously. This is mounted well clear of the ground and crops, under a hinged cover for protection, but it folds down for ease of use and incorporates several handy features designed to improve ease of use and speed of filling. Two rinsing nozzles are fitted, one with a more aggressive jet to wash out stubborn deposits from the containers, and the lid folds clear to a horizontal position allowing empty cans to be placed upside down on stands to drain fully. On the right side of the wash station is a control panel providing easy operation. “The induction hopper is where operators spend most of their time outside of the tractor cab, so it is very important it is easy to use and convenient,” explained marketing manager Joe Allen. “Induction rates in excess of 120. litres/min are achievable now so the operator can reduce down time.”
Tanks are stainless steel, reflecting Chafer’s speciality in the liquid fertiliser market. A new tank shape boosts capacity and lowers centre of gravity by 10 per cent; flared lower front sections provide more capacity for the liquids lower down, while leaving space at the rear for larger wheels and narrow axle widths. Baffles prevent surging at the new higher travel speeds.
The narrower upper profiles of the tanks have also provided space for the booms to fold lower for transport, the reduced overall height further improving stability and reducing the risk of damage during road travel.
Boom choice widened
There are three boom options; F-series, G-series and H-series. All retain Chafer’s previous mast mounting system. The new F-series boom has the smallest working widths; with options up to 30m, versions over 24m utilising a triple-fold system. G-series offers triple folding from 30-40m and is based on the successful boom design used by the company since 2005. “The G-series booms are well-proven and have been popular, offering the capability to fold in stages for use at 12 and 24m as well as fully unfolded at maximum width,” said Joe.
A new H-series boom is based on the G-series and is available in 36-42m widths, folding to operate also at 14 and 28m. “This will be popular, being stronger than the G-series at 40m and having a new centre frame that incorporates extra air suspension for bounce and tilt,” said Joe. “The air springs effectively isolate the boom from the movement of the chassis providing excellent stability, boom protection and optimal control of boom height over the target.”
Chafer’s well-proven Contour boom levelling system is an option and, on e-specification versions a new feature is the ability of the boom to tilt below horizontal, for enhanced performance in undulating work areas. “The Contour system offers significant benefits and most purchasers of our sprayers over 30m opt for the upgrade once they see it in action,” explained Joe. “The additional performance of the new e-Contour version means we expect its popularity to increase.”
All booms have 50cm nozzle spacing as standard with alternative spacings available to special order. Multiple nozzle body options can be accommodated and up to 20 sections can be controlled separately although individual nozzle control is also available. Stainless steel nuts and bolts and some plastic components are used, for resistance to liquid fertiliser and for ease of future maintenance.
The e-spec version incorporates a comprehensive electronic control system as standard. Canbus electronics provide communication between all components and two 7in screens are used; one screen on the sprayer near the induction hopper providing one-touch operation of filling, rinsing, dilution and washing, and another similar screen in the cab allowing the operator to set-up and monitor all machine functions from the seat.
E-spec includes all e-functions as standard, whereas on the base version functions are available independently. The higher specification also includes auto-section control via a TeeJet Aeros (other controllers are available) and air shut-off as standard. The e-control system has been developed by Chafer in-house. “Developing the system ourselves was the only way we could incorporate all functions we knew were needed in the specification,” explained Joe. “Off-the-shelf alternatives had some of what was needed, but made operation more complicated and our system is very easy to use.”
The in-cab screen allows control of all plumbing functions as well as hydraulics, a selection of road and field operating modes for the steering as well as optional upgrades such as Contour boom height control. Fault finding is available through a diagnostic function which also allows remote access by technical staff to help rectify issues as quickly as possible, without the need to visit the machine. A programmable control joystick is also supplied allowing most-frequently needed functions to be quickly accessed.
Prices for the new sprayers start at #49,500 for the Guardian 4,000-litre 24m, and #61,500 for a 5,000-litre Sentry equipped with a 36m boom. The higher e-specification versions of each add #13,000.
“We used to be perceived as a manufacturer of equipment for the application of liquid fertiliser but, in more recent years, users have recognised the advantages offered by our range for more general agricultural spraying, and now most of our sprayers are purchased for general farm work. The new Sentry and Guardian sprayers are equipped with features and performance to suit modern larger farms as well as those providing a contract-farming service,” explained Chris. “We expect the convenience of our self-propelled sprayers to be attractive to, and likely to remain the preferred option for, those offering a contracting service over larger areas.”
Black-grass challenge demands modern solution
Also announced by Chafer at the event was a new boomed granular applicator from its Horstine division, designed in response to the increased use of Avadex tri-allate).
Avadex is manufactured by Gowan and the company’s UK and Ireland business manager Dr Dominic Lamb was at the event, and suggested that Avadex should be used as part of a stack treatment against the increasing problem of black-grass, due to its well-proven performance and the lack of resistance to the product. “There has been no proven resistance during the past 40 years since it was introduced,” he explained. “It has a different mode of action to almost any other active ingredient and there are very few restrictions regarding its use and following crops. Using it as a part of the ‘stack’ boosts performance and provides control but it has to be applied effectively.”
To be effective Avadex has to be applied before black-grass emerges and it can be applied off the back of a cereal drill, or behind rolls which avoids the need for a separate pass. Dominic explained that it works best applied on a consolidated surface, but issues arise in situations where rolls aren’t used after drilling, or where the roller operator is not PA4G qualified.
“Avadex needs to be applied as soon as possible after drilling and the spray evenness is critical, with two granules per cm2, the required application rate when applying the chemical at 15kg/ha,” he said.
The Horstine TMA2 and TMA4 applicators were popular with farmers and contractors applying Avadex in the 1980s and 1990s, but offered only 6- or 12m working widths and production of these machines ceased when Avadex use declined. Now, Dominic said, sales of Avadex are at a higher rate than at the product’s previous peak in the 1990s, due to its demand for black-grass control. A limited number of TMA4 applicators were produced last year, but demand far exceeded supply despite the less than ideal working width.
The solution, explained Rob Starkey, is the Horstine Cascade boomed applicator which offers working widths up to 24m and a 1,500-litre hopper. The Cascade was originally produced as a 20m applicator but its design has been modernised, including four separate metering sections. “Producing an accurate applicator of 24m is far more complex than producing a 12m machine,” explained Rob. “We have taken aspects of the proven Twin-Air product which offered excellent spread quality, and we can offer accuracy within two per cent at each outlet of the new Cascade. It is 3-point linkage mounted and, as well as Avadex, it can handle granular fertilisers and slug pellets as well as other small seeded crops.”
Drive to the fan and metering system is hydraulic and different cassettes are fitted for different product sizes. As well as 24m working widths, there is a 15m boom available to suit 30m, an 18m to suit 36m, a 20m to suit 40m, and the 24m which will also offer a solution for those with 48m tramlines. Booms are a mix of plastic and steel tubes, offering light weight and strength, the booms largely self-supporting.
Control is via an RDS ISOcan box offering individual metering unit control in four sections, and capable of auto-switching. It will also support variable rate application of fertiliser.
The first seven are already sold, before a production example is complete, such is the demand from potential users, and the company expects significant interest in the new machine when it is launched at Cereals in June. Guide price is 26,000 on farm.
The new sprayers have improved performance on and off road, and a wider range of boom and control options to suit modern farms.