Smart Spraying in Hawke’s Bay

James Powrie and Dan Bloomer, LandWISE Inc.

As published in Grower October 2011

A Hawke’s Bay crop farming company wanted spraying done quicker.  Managers also wanted to know agrichemicals were applied in the right place and not wasted.

The farmers liked machines AgTech’s Matt Gordon had built, so got him involved.

Matt says, “Reducing spraying errors and improved application quality put money in the bank for these farmers.”

“They have a big programme spread around Hawke’s Bay and their people put in a big season.  Equipment has to be reliable, comfortable and fast on the road.”   Driver comfort, air suspension and airbag suspension were all on the shopping list.

Matt provided a Multidrive 6195 with a 320 litre/min pump and four-wheel steering.  With four-wheel drive, diff lock and air drive it is designed to get maximum hp on the ground and it hasn’t been stuck yet.

The sprayer holds 4000 litres of mixed spray, and another 400 litres of fresh water for flushing the machine.

The farmers also chose auto-steer and sectional control using Trimble FMX. The GPS monitor in the cab displays spray coverage as the paddock is sprayed, reducing the chance of missed or doubled-up runs.  A Hardy HC5500 auto-rate spray controller adjusts for variation in vehicle speed.

This combination of brands duplicated successful overseas installations. This mix makes the machine unique but parts are readily available so any downtime is minimised.

The 21-m air boom has an air-rail carrying nozzles, allowing for adjustment of nozzle angle from 40 degrees backwards and 30 degrees forwards.  This helps control drift, and lays the plant canopy over for best spray coverage.

Seven individually controlled sections further reduce overlap.  Sections automatically turn off in areas previously sprayed such as headland turns and point rowsand  to avoid spraying waterways, troughs or tracks, then on again to cover unsprayed crop.   The outer sections, where most variation occurs, are slightly shorter.   Individual nozzle control is an option and a possible later upgrade.

The technology improves efficiency by reducing the amount of chemical, water, time and fuel used.

It works because the GPS knows the position of each part of a spray boom, controls whether the section is on or off.

Saving money, time and improving yields mean this technology has to be a winner.   “We work to build machines which are as efficient as possible.  This machine does a very good job and gets the area done fast,” says Matt.

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