Machinery News

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Trailed boom spreader saves time and costs

Kuhn has been manufacturing trailed boom spreaders since 2003, The latest AGT 6036 with its 36m application width was demonstrated to potential customers

Kuhn has been manufacturing trailed boom spreaders since 2003, but interest in the applicators has grown rapidly in recent years as fertiliser costs, and the need to cover larger areas has increased. The latest AGT 6036 with its 36m application width was demonstrated to potential customers, dealers and the farming press at an event in Cambridgeshire. David Williams reports.The Kuhn AGT 6036 36m pneumatic boom spreader is expected to suit large farms and contractors.Kuhn has been in partnership with spreader manufacturer Rauch for almost 50 years, with Rauch spreaders sold in the UK under the Kuhn name since 1985, and the company claims to be the market leader in Europe and the UK for the supply of disc spreaders.
AGT pneumatic trailed spreaders were introduced in the 1990s, with models up to 24m available but production ceased in 2000 as sales were limited. With renewed demand for the products due to their increased accuracy, production resumed in 2003 and recent updates have included wider application widths to rival many disc spreaders as well as increased capacity.There are three models in the range, all with 6,300-litre hoppers and boom width options of 30, 32 and 36m. The AGT6036 demonstrated at the event had 36m booms and is said to be capable of applying fertilisers up to 500ha (1,200 acres) per day at a 15kph working speed, and with a transport speed up to 40kph.The hydraulic folding cover is standard. The hopper is designed for ease of loading whether from bags or using a front loader.”Our disc spreaders provide very accurate fertiliser placement,” explains Rauch managing director Norbert Rauch. “However, spreading accurately, particularly over wider working widths, relies on the use of a good quality fertiliser and, if cheap low grade fertilisers are applied, there can be a problem with even distribution. Using a pneumatic boom spreader ensures that even if lower quality fertiliser is used, it will be placed evenly right across the width and for large farms this can offer very significant savings.”Six hydraulic-driven feed rollers control the flow of fertiliser into the ducts, from where it is carried by the air flow from two fan units to the boom outlets. Norbert says the metering units ensure even feed regardless of the flow characteristics of the material being applied. Individual control of the six 6m sections provides automatic shut-off across the full width at headlands or in stages for short work, as well as variable rate application across the whole width. Kuhn points out that it is even possible to spread only to the outside sections where required, which is not possible with a disc spreader. By folding in the outer boom sections the spreader can be operated at a 24m spread width without modification, a benefit particularly for contractors whose clients might have 24 or 36m tramline spacing.(Pictured Left: The 30 spreader outlets are designed to deflect the flow upwards providing a ‘chaotic’ distribution for even application.)Fertiliser is applied to the crop through 30 equally-spaced outlets; all with upward-facing deflector plates which produce a symmetrical but ‘chaotic’ pattern which Kuhn explains ensures even distribution. “Even the dustiest urea is accurately applied right up to the field border,” explains Norbert.The three-section stainless steel booms are free-swinging, mounted on two pendulums to provide independence of movement from the trailer unit. Maximum application height is 2m and automatic height control is standard. The outer sections of the booms can be folded in if required, for example, for working around obstructions. An automatic headland lift is available.The trailer axle is fitted with hydro-pneumatic suspension as standard and there is a choice of air or hydraulic braking. Standard wheel track is 2.25m and standard tyre equipment is 520/85R42 but wider 650/65R42 or 710/70R42 tyres can be specified. “The ability to work on the same tramline system as a 36m sprayer is a definite advantage,” says Norbert.The spreader has hydro-pneumatic suspension.A tractor of at least 180hp is recommended, the trailed spreader having an all-up weight up to 12t depending on the material being applied, and Kuhn UK technical manager Robert Garthwaite says that the main advantages come from potential cost savings through the ability to use lower grade fertilisers, as well as through labour and time. “With its large capacity, it is important to have an efficient fertiliser loading system to maximise the output of the machine.”Robert says that because the fertiliser is placed accurately across the width, farm operations can be planned better. “Conventional spreaders can be affected by weather conditions and farmers or contractors will often have to alter their application plans on the day due to high winds, but this isn’t an issue with  AGT spreaders. Unless the ground is too wet, applications can continue and this allows the farmer to plan better by applying the fertiliser at the optimal time for the crop, and for labour and tractor use.”A further advantage and cost-saving is that once the spreader is calibrated, which takes just a few minutes, the farmer can be confident that the application rate and spread is as required. It’s much easier to set up than a twin-disc spreader and its spread pattern is not as susceptible to wear, so there isn’t the same need for regular checking of spreading accuracy, which saves cost and down-time,” he adds.The AGT with the standard metering rollers is capable of applying urea at up to 250kg/ha at 15kph, and options include micro-granule feed rollers to apply between 3-30kg/ha of seeds, slug pellets or Avadex (tri-allate). The Kuhn Quantron 1 control box supplied with the machine is Isobus compatible and uses a joystick for boom and spread control. (Pictured left: Calibration takes just a few minutes; the feed rollers rotating for a set period, the discharged material weighed and the result fed into the control box.)The AGT has a price tag of 130,000 and Kuhn estimates that it will offer significant financial advantages when compared with running two twin-disc spreaders on arable farms above 600-700ha (1,500-1,700 acres). Cost comparisons provided at the demonstration were based on an 800ha (2,000 acres) arable farm with an average field size of 20ha (50 acres). Analysis took into account benefits including reduced fertiliser costs and tramline wheeling area, improved accuracy of fertiliser application and border spreading, increased productivity as well as running and ownership costs. Compared with a pair of twin-disc mounted spreaders, the AGT showed an annual financial advantage of 34,476, says Kuhn.At the demonstration was Chandlers area salesman David Ensor, who is based at the dealer’s new Lutterworth branch. “I was very keen to see the spreader working as we already have some customers interested. They are arable farms with mixed cropping; vegetables, root crops and cereals and they have approximately 800ha. For both of them the attraction of accurately applying cheap fertilisers while getting over the land quickly is seen as a significant advantage. They tray-test their current spreaders frequently but because the pneumatic boom spreader doesn’t require testing as frequently this is a further advantage, and its ability to work in more inclement weather makes it more versatile than the current disc spreaders.Folded for transport. The spreader is designed for towing up to 40kph.”I believe that all of our branches have some users who would benefit from the AGT,” he adds. David says he enjoys selling Kuhn products; “Customers like them, and Kuhn has a strong reputation for reliability and machinery with a long working life. It’s a company which is easily accessible, there is always someone available who can answer a question and that helps me as a dealer. It has a very wide range of products, all of which are superb, and the AGT is typical with excellent build quality, a clever design and being easy to use.”The AGT was shown on Kuhn’s stand at Lamma and will be at Cereals next month. “For the future, this type of technology will be very important,” concludes Norbert. “Discussions are starting in Europe about the amount of residual nitrogen in the soils, and potential problems this will cause, and if fertiliser is not applied accurately and evenly then the problem becomes more severe.”The use of GPS guidance systems and variable rate applications help, but if a spreader is applying the correct amount of fertiliser to a field, but its pattern isn’t even, and if the tractor travels along identical tramlines every year, then the over- and under-dose problems are magnified each time. If the fertiliser is applied evenly then this isn’t a problem.”Chandlers area sales manager David Ensor is pictured (left) with Kuhn area sales manager Paul Gregory.


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