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Muck & Slurry

Power on the Land

Muck and slurry handling is the topic for this month’s Power on the Land, brought to you as always by Mike Williams. 

One of the Pro series models in the Powerspread range from Shelbourne Reynolds

With constant innovation and development in manure and slurry handling equipment, it can be hard to keep up. Here are just a few examples, each offering specialist designs and tech to make spreading more effective and efficient. 

New UK distribution agreement 

Zunhammer is one of Germany’s leading machinery ranges for handling slurry and liquids including digestate, and the product range is now available in the UK following a distribution agreement with Cambridgeshire-based Agrifac. The equipment list includes a comprehensive range of tankers with a choice of single-, double- and triple-axles and with tank capacities ranging from 6,000 to 30,000 litres. Zunhammer also offers a range of incorporation equipment including disc type injectors and cultivators, plus dribble bars with working widths from 9–36m and trailing shoe systems up to 27m wide. Tankers can be Isobus-linked for job recording, and the options include the VAN (Variable Application of Nutrients) equipment that can assess the nutrient level in each load and can also adjust the spread rate in order to apply the target level of crop nutrients. 

Hands-on for 20 years

Wox Agri Services has been running a contracting business featuring slurry application for more than 20 years, and this has provided the hands-on experience which has enabled it to develop the range of equipment it makes. Its specialist product list includes the Typhoon trailed hose reeler mounted on braked wheels, with capacity for up to 3,000m of 6in pipe. It is equipped with a guide to load the pipe evenly across the width of the reel. 

Wox also offers the Tempest reeler designed for front or rear mounting, available in widths from 1.8–2.5m to offer maximum capacity for 1,200m of 6in pipe, and with a fully integrated drive mechanism to utilise the full carrying capacity. The Viper hose handler is also available for front or rear mounting, designed to simplify pipe transfer around the field with less risk of crop damage compared with a drag hose, while also reducing the risk of stress on the pipe and couplings. 

The Wox range also includes the Hose Pinch, which is a simple yet important gripping device that blocks slurry movement while work is carried out on the pipe or couplings. In addition, the product list also features the Invader series pumping sets, which are based on Cornell series pump units, integrated with a hydraulically powered compressor and an electronically actuated clutch. 

The Zunhammer range of slurry tankers and application equipment is now available from Agrifac

Side discharge spreading 

An important advantage of spreaders with a side impeller distribution mechanism is their ability to handle solids or liquids and also a mixture of the two, and this is the system Shelbourne Reynolds uses on their Powerspread series. There are six models in the range, providing load capacities from 1,600–3,200 gallons and they all have a side discharge spreading action using a hydraulically-powered overshot rotor, plus a vertically opening door to provide up to 20m spreading width. The two smallest models are in the Dairy series, with the medium and large capacity models forming the Pro series with additional features including a hydraulically-operated anti-bridging arm plus a reversible feed auger. Minimum power requirements start at 85hp for the smallest Dairy series model and the recommendation for the range-topping 3,200-gallon Plus series spreader is 130hp plus.

Bespoke designs made to order

Slurry tankers are the Dezwaef speciality, and, as well as offering standard models, their flexible manufacturing allows design and specification changes, with all tankers being built to order. The tankers are made in Belgium and single-, double- and triple-axle models are available with tank capacities up to 26,000 litres. All tankers have a galvanised finish, the drawbars are hydraulically suspended, and the air suspension axle option is specified by most of the double- and triple-axle tanker customers. The Dezwaef range also features application equipment for slurry including dribble bars, cultivator type units up to 6.5m wide for arable injection and there are trailing shoe applicators with 7 and 8m working widths. Dezwaef equipment has been available in the UK since 2015, and the distributor is Wiltshire-based HVM Agri.  

The Dezwaef machinery range includes triple-axle tankers with up to 26,000-litre capacities

Largest slurry tanker range

Manure and slurry spreaders are a Joskin company speciality, and they offer a comprehensive range of models and specifications. Their slurry tanker range is said to be the biggest available, with nine different series, single-, double- and triple-axle models, tank capacities from 2,500–28,000 litres plus a choice of pump options. Specifications include drawbar suspension, and a four-point linkage can be added to carry a range of application attachments from the Joskin range and from Vogelsang, including equipment for slurry injection into pasture and arable land. Rear delivery manure spreaders are available with either vertical or horizontal beaters, one, two or three axles and with load capacities ranging from 8–26t. The entry level spreaders are the single-axle Siroko series with 8–13t capacity, a galvanised finish and with vertical beaters. The range topping FertiSpace 2 spreaders can be supplied with either vertical or horizontal beaters, and twin or triple-axle versions are available with load capacities in the 14 –26t range.  

Versatility is key

One of the features of the Hydro Trike tractor units built in Holland by Vervaet is versatility. Most are used with a demountable manure spreader body with up to 20t capacity or to carry a tank holding up to 19,000 litres of slurry or digestate plus application equipment, but they can also work with sprayers and combi drills and are used for transporting crop material from the harvester to the silage clamp, or working as chaser units for sugar beet harvesting. Vervaet’s UK distributor, J Riley Beet Harvesters (UK) Ltd, offers three- and five-wheel models, both equipped with a 12.9-litre DAF engine producing 510hp, with the power delivered through an infinitely variable, two-speed transmission providing 40kph maximum transport speed. Hydro Trikes are available with a comprehensive choice of tyre options and the equipment list includes on-the-move tyre inflation, allowing the pressure to be adjusted when changing between on-road and in-field operation. 

Precise application 

New additions to the Vogelsang range of slurry and digestate handling equipment include the Blackbird trailing shoe linkage with outlets designed to provide more precise application to avoid the risk of crop contamination. A special feature of the Blackbird is the new skid unit designed to part the crop plants more effectively, while also achieving better soil penetration to produce the narrow furrows where the liquid is deposited. The specification also includes an updated version of Vogelsang’s ExtraCut ECQ precision distributor unit. The first models in the Blackbird range were introduced in June this year with 12 and 15m working widths, and a 24m version was added to the range in November.

The new Blackbird trailing shoe linkage applicators from Vogelsang are available with up to 24m working width

Slurry wheel offers solution to tightening regulations

On the back of the diffuse pollution regulations coming into force last year, the agricultural sector is under increasing pressure to look at its ammonia emissions. Together with existing requirements to target fertiliser application into a constricted window of crop demand, this is resulting in a dramatic increase in the demand for high capacity accurate machines, according to Agri Industry Solutions (AIS).

The award-winning Veenhuis Rotomax slurry reel, in combination with Nutri-flow real-time nutrient monitoring, offers a solution to the growing challenges of tighter regulation, while maximising the benefit of slurries, AIS says. Getting the maximum value possible from the material is becoming an important part of the AD and livestock model, the company explains, adding that it is expecting to see a busy production line, with more machines in the field next year.

Veenhuis’s injector range, whether on the Rotomax or umbilical/tanker systems, offers a low emission delivery of slurry to the point of plant uptake, improving efficiency dramatically, AIS explains. 

The company attended Agritechnica in November to support the SV Group, which is the newly formed amalgamation of Shuitemaker and Veenhuis. The merger has seen the production capacity of Veenhuis increase, together with improved aftersales support, a requirement foreseen to assist with the emerging UK market.

Setting up heavy land for spring sowing without the plough

The benefits to treating slurry

Biocell Agri Ltd director, Alec Ross, explains why treating slurry could benefit farmers.

Q. Why go to the expense of treating slurry?

A. It isn’t actually all that expensive. For a typical farmer with one million gallons of slurry, they’d be able to treat it all with Slurrycell for much less than you’d think.

Q. When’s the best time to treat slurry?

A. There are two golden rules. Treat early and treat to capacity. In other words, if you’ve a couple of feet of slurry in a tank/shed/lagoon, treat the slurry before cows come in for the winter, giving it a stir as you do so. This helps to distribute the bugs throughout the area and gets them going. 

Q. Does treating reduce the need to purchase nitrogen?

A. It does. I’m not going to make any wild claims, but what I do know is that you’ll have a bit more nitrogen and, because the slurry is a lot more even, your potash and phosphate levels are a lot more consistent as well – which makes balancing the nutrient requirements of your fields easier.

Q. What other benefits are there?

A. The big one for me is the reduction in diesel costs that results from significantly reduced mixing times. That in itself pays for the cost of treatment.

Also, the bugs help convert ammonia to NH3 – so it doesn’t smell as bad and you get less grass scorch. And, because the bugs eat fibre, there’s less ‘matting’ on swards. Plus we find it results in a much easier slurry to work with. Once stirred, it stays stirred with fewer blockages. It’s significant, I think, that slurry contractors with umbilical systems are among our strongest champions.

Time saving hose reelers

Slurry and digestate specialist Tramspread has developed a range of reelers that can save time when umbilical spreading. 

Through the use of a twin hydraulic drive, the Tramspread random wrap reeler has ample power to quickly reel in or out up to 1,000m of 4 or 5in hose or 800m of 6in hose. The galvanised spools, or bobbins, can be easily and quickly removed from the robust carrying frame by removing two securing pins to lower the reel to the ground. 

The random wrap reeler has been developed to be gear driven. This offers more power and gives better torque when reeling in. It also means the reeler suffers less wear, is faster and more reliable, than chain alternatives.

Explaining the benefits of the reelers, Edwin Baker from Tramspread said: “These reelers are built from heavy duty steel and are a reliable piece of kit in the field. Reelers are one of our best-selling products and each one is made with attention to detail and a commitment to quality.”

In addition to tractor-mounted reelers, Tramspread also manufactures larger trailed reelers. The segmented types are available to carry 1,600m of 6in hose and 2,000m of 4 or 5in hose. The random wrap version, with hydraulic pivoting drawbar, can hold either 2,000m of 6in, 2400m of 5in or 2,800m of 4in hose.

Again, these reelers are twin hydraulic drive, offering no shortage of power. The trailed reelers are hydraulically operated from both tractor and reeler which offers greater control when recovering and laying out.

Edwin added: “Our reelers are fast and reliable. If farmers are using umbilical, then good quality reelers are an essential tool. Ours are tested to the limit by our contracting division so we know they perform.”

The Tramspread random wrap, tractor-mounted reeler offers robust build quality and a powerful twin hydraulic drive capable of reeling up to 1,000m of hose

Innovations in slurry handling

Zunhammer has introduced a direct measuring system as an analysis tool, among other innovative features.

German manufacturer Zunhammer produces a wide range of slurry handling equipment, with its tankers in their basic configuration consisting of a tank, chassis, frame and rotary lobe pump, along with slurry agitation. The heart-shaped tank, combined with the agitation pattern, prevents solids from being deposited in the tank. Unlike vacuum tanks, Zunhammer tankers do not rely on vacuum pressure within the tank to fill or empty.

The company says its SKE Series has an exceptionally low weight, low centre of gravity and a high degree of stability. The frame is equipped with the innovative ECO System – slurry lines that run through the frame, allowing slurry to flow more efficiently. At the same time, the large cross-section of the frame provides a lower counter-pressure than standard pressure lines, which saves energy on the drive side and reduces wear on the pump. Tankers are fitted with the Glide-fix trailing shoe to provide optimal spreading quality to the crop. Available in widths of 12, 15 and 18m, the large operating width ensures high hourly output, providing throughput of up to 12,000 litres/min.

Zunhammer has also introduced Van-Control 2.0, a direct measuring system for slurry analysis, making it possible to analyse slurry or liquid digestate during filling. The system allows the use of these natural fertilisers with nearly the same precision as artificial fertilisers. Users can also set the desired nitrogen application rate and leave the tanker to determine the required m3/ha. Variable rate application is possible by linking the Van-Control system to soil maps. Optimal metering based on quantity of nutrients offers substantial savings on fertiliser costs, the company adds.

Increased need for dirty water distribution

For livestock farmers, a long dry summer in the East especially took the pressure off dispersing dirty water. A sharp increase in rainfall through the autumn has reversed the situation and efficient, safe distribution of dirty water is once again a priority.

This change has already been reflected in sales of dirty water spreading systems, according to Briggs Irrigation, which makes the popular, long-serving Roto Rainer range of equipment.

Managing director Adrian Colwill said: “We have seen a marked increase in sales of Roto Rainers and the accompanying pumpsets, reflecting the change in weather. There are already thousands of units quietly working away on farms across the UK and in Ireland but we were prepared for the upturn in demand and have stock available.

“Roto Rainers have very few wear parts that need regular replacement but if customers need to replace nozzles or update any section of their system we are pleased to help.”

Pump unit passes the stress test in New Zealand

A British manufacturer and distributor has gone so far as to sell its products to the other side of the world. 

Wilton Agricultural, an effluent-spreading specialist covering South Canterbury and North Otago in New Zealand, took delivery of Wox Agri Services’ high performance drag hose equipment earlier this year, aiming to increase the efficiency of their operation.

The Wox Invader pump system has been tested across many different slurry lagoons

Following a visit to the UK in July 2018, Brodie Wilton of Wilton Agricultural made the bold decision to invest in a Wox Invader pump system. Completing the purchase were two 1,000m Wox Tempest hose reelers with 6in and 5in pipe and shug fittings, and a 12m Vogelsang Compax dribble bar.

Fast forward to January 2019 and the equipment landed in New Zealand. After 800 hours of operation, during a site visit to update the telemetry and complete a first service, Geoffrey Wox from Wox Agri Services gained some valuable insights into the value the machinery was adding to Brodie Wilton’s operation.

Working in many different ‘ponds’ (slurry lagoons), the machine has been tested to its full capacity, enabling Wilton Agricultural to expand as local farmers, a testament to Brodie’s timeliness and work ethic. Wilton Agricultural also supports its drag hose work with mixing paddles and high volume tractor-driven jetters.

With Brodie’s experiences of PTO-driven drag hose pumps, his step into this type of purchase was a calculated risk. With a figure of M3 to pump and spread in their first season, Wilton Agricultural has already exceeded its target.

New self-propelled spreader launched with improved traction

Dutch specialist equipment manufacturer Vervaet is currently testing a 5-wheel drive version of its Hydro Trike self-propelled spreader, the Hydro Trike 5×5. This new option utilises an updated powertrain along with other improvements. 

From a distance, the new machine doesn’t appear much different to any other Vervaet Hydro Trike, but operators of current machines will notice several changes. 

The 5-wheel concept has already more than proven itself, combining the single front wheel’s excellent manoeuvrability with the even ground pressure across the full 4.5m width provided by the additional mid-axle. These advantages are great on grassland, but also valuable when working on bare ground and in growing crops. 

The Hydro Trike 5×5 comes into its own when working on hilly terrain, with the 5×5 making fertiliser application possible on hillsides. Vervaet also claims that driving all five wheels saves fuel when working on loose cultivated land. 

Vervaet claims that driving all five wheels saves fuel when working on loose soil

Vervaet launched the VSG drive system earlier this year which employs two hydraulic motors to power the rear axle. These are interconnected by a wet plate clutch so that both provide drive when the machine is accelerating and during field-work when the pumps provide high oil volumes for maximum power. Once up to speed the machine’s electronics control the oil flow so that the second motor only provides as much power as required. When on the road, the system disengages one of the motors. 

This all takes place automatically and on-the-move, so that the machine can be driven at speed on the headland with an empty tank, for example, without having to stop and switch from field to transport range. The Trike’s 40kph top speed can be reached with the engine running at just 1,200rpm rather than at around 1,400rpm, saving yet more fuel. 

Vervaet already offered a traction control system which allowed the driver to control the power distribution between the front wheel and rear axle. However, this manual system needed a skilled operator, as an incorrectly set balance can be inefficient. On the new Trikes, a fully electronic traction control system replaces this manual setup. Sensors measure each wheel’s speed and send more oil to the wheel with most traction. This automatic system also controls the mid-axle’s ground pressure, so that if the rear wheels slip it puts more weight on them by slightly raising the mid-axle. 

A new three-point suspension system replaces leaf springs with repositioned shock absorbers at the front of the axle. An inclination sensor, which detects whether the machine is on a side-hill, allows the system to automatically lock the suspension on the far side. 

On top of these innovations, the new Trike also heralds the arrival of the latest 530hp Paccar engines which will be fitted as standard from next season. 

Vervaet debuted this latest version of the Hydro Trike XL at Agritechnica. It will enter production in phases over 2020 and 2021 and will be available in the UK solely through J Riley Beet Harvesters (UK) Ltd.  

Tractors exclusively available nationwide

Tractors UK is the sole UK importer of Indian-built Tafe tractors, which have proved to be the ideal yard scraper tractor, with some customers having as many as five of these machines spread throughout their dairy farms. Some are reported as doing in excess of 4,000 trouble-free hours of yard scraping per year, making them one of the best on the market in terms of running cost.  

The Tafe 45DI OIB (47hp) tractor with yard scraper

With a 3-cylinder engine, there are 37hp, 47hp and 60hp options, each with an 8-speed gearbox and hydrostatic power steering. Other optional variances include 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, and roll bar or cab option. All versions include Ferguson 3-point linkage system, oil immersed brakes, Goodyear tyres, Lucas starter and alternator, and Bosch fuel injection. 

These versatile and reliable little tractors are ideal for general farm maintenance and particularly useful when manoeuvring in tight spaces. They are suitable for operating front loaders as well as toppers, post drivers or other machinery to the rear.

Although Dorset based, the tractors can be seen at many of the agricultural shows throughout next summer as well as at Lamma in January 2020. Offering distribution throughout the country, support is offered directly or via Tractors UK’s network of dealers and service agents. These simple, basic and reliable tractors come with a two-year parts and labour warranty. Tractors UK stock a comprehensive range of spare parts and offer technical backup, both on-site and over the phone.

Unique solutions to muck and slurry handling

Conor Engineering manufactures high quality slurry tanks that range in size from 1,100–5,500 gallons. They specialise in making bespoke tanks and, with over 200 optional extras, 32 models and 44 different wheel options, the company says anything the customer requires can be made. The tanks are available in single, tandem and tri-axle, with a large range of wheel options available. 

The Conor recessed tandem axle tank is designed in such a way that its centre of gravity is much lower than the majority of its competitors. It is built on a tandem suspension with parabolic springs and is extremely stable, offering improved safety at high speed and on hilly ground. 

Since launching its trailing shoe nine years ago, more than 500 units have been sold. Conor attributes the product’s success to its robust and simple construction, plus the cost savings on fertiliser and the environmental benefits of using a trailing shoe have been well documented. 

The company also manufactures rear discharge muck spreaders, designed with the contractor in mind. The Conor Muck Spreader is a well kitted-out machine with key equipment – such as a wide angle PTO and torque clutch – included as standard, the company adds. As standard, it is fitted with 15mm hardox tips and the base of the beater is made from 15mm plate, while the floor is hardwearing 5mm.

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