Technology offers many opportunities to improve our daily lives not least through greater efficiency and enhanced productivity, but unless it is easy to use and reliable its value is often ignored. To ensure sprayer operators gain the most on offer from the latest precision application technology Sands Agricultural Machinery (SAM), the Norfolk-based manufacturer of self-propelled sprayers, is custom fitting its machines with the latest technology from the leading manufacturers.
According to Ian Griffin, SAM sales manager, offering systems from Trimble to AgLeader to Topcon means the new machine can be easily integrated into the user’s existing set up.
“We recognise that new technologies such as precision guidance and application are of growing importance to operators as they seek to boost work rates and cut overlaps, but rather than opting for one supplier we are working with all the major players to ensure that their systems can be fully integrated and to meet customer needs.
“On the Yorkshire Wolds, for example, we have sold a number of machines with the Topcon X20. This is due to new customers having the X20 in their previous sprayer to interface with the Yara N Sensor. We suggested retaining the system for both N sensing and also rate control and auto section shut off. By not having the standard RDS controller this offset the cost of the ECU to give full GPS guidance, mapping and auto shut off. Seven customers in this area alone followed this route.”
Its latest machine, the Vision 4.0 (pictured), is available with a range of precision technologies depending on user requirements. A fully equipped machine was recently supplied to Joseph Camm Farms, Retford, Notts. This is the third Sands machine for this renowned farming company which grows a large area of cereals, potatoes, onions, carrots and sugar beet.
“In specifying its latest model the farm’s managers, Karl Rust and Mark Pickard decided to fully utilise all that is available in the form of GPS controllers to maximise spraying output and increase efficiency,” Mr Griffin says. “Having bought into the advantages of RTK steering on their primary cultivation tractors and planters, they felt significant gains could be made in their spraying operations.”
The Pickard’s Vision 4.0 was fitted with the latest AgLeader Integra display unit which is linked to the ParaDyme Automated steering module as they had a existing relationship with Precise Solutions (the UK distributor for AgLeader). “The benefit of the AgLeader system, however, is that it is the only ‘dual antenna’ system which tracks pitch, roll and yaw giving unmatched accuracy (to 2cm) and repeatability. As large areas of crops are established without tramlines this system will both speed up and improve the accuracy of chemical applications.”
The RTK signal is also used for the Vision’s seven section boom automatic shut off. This minimises spray overlap to industry leading levels cutting crop damage and reducing chemical costs. Other advantages are the potential for increased yields and significantly reduced operator fatigue.
“As well as controlling steering, auto sections and spray rate control the Integra also interfaces with the Norac Auto Boom Levelling system. This enables the operator to set the required nozzle height above the target to maximise the efficiency of the chemical being applied,” Mr Griffin says.
“Karl and Mark are confident that the investment in AgLeader GPS technology coupled with the performance and reliability of the Vision 4.0 will result in better work rates, better crops, easier operation and a significant reduction in overall costs,” concluded Mr Griffin.
Sands is also offering the latest systems form Trimble. “At a recent meeting with AS Communications, the UK distributor for Trimble, we were introduced to the new CFX 750 and the FMX. We were impressed with these, especially the 750 which can be either a simple guidance unit or, with the addition of extra software and an ECU, can give auto shut off, rate control, cameras and auto steer all from one head unit. One existing Sands customer, who already has RTK steering on the farm through Trimble, has specified his next Sands sprayer to have a 750 fitted,” said Mr Griffin.