Entry-level to future-proof upgrade
A used, entry-level self-propelled sprayer, retro-fitted with the latest electronic control is delivering cost-effective accuracy and efficiency for a Lancashire farm.
(Left to right: David Hargreaves, Marshall Hargreaves with Nick Abbey of LH Agro, who installed the system)
Retro-fitting the latest electronic control to a used self-propelled sprayer has enabled David and Marshall Hargreaves, of Mere Farm, Preston, to upgrade from a trailed machine at a fraction of the cost of buying new.
This new sprayer replaces a combination of a trailed with a front-mounted tank, which was used on the 344ha wheat, barley and oilseed rape rotation. Weighing in at about 11t, this previous combination was struggling to travel in all but perfect conditions.
It took the Hargreaves a year to find a suitable, good quality and low-hour self-propelled – a Househam Spirit fitted with a 24m wide boom, equipped with five sections. While at 6t, fully laden, it solved the weight problem, the used machine still required modernisation.
To do this the Hargreaves turned to LH Agro to upgrade its spray circuits and electronics to install an 11-section automatic control system, plus a range of other features. This not only provides optimum accuracy, but also future-proofs the purchase at a significantly lower cost than buying a similar specced new machine.
Equipped with the latest technology, the Hargreaves’ Househam now allows them to operator more efficiently during the spring’s catchy weather, with the full auto-section control improving accuracy as well as saving chemical use by cutting overlaps.
At nearly half the weight than the tractor, front tank and trailed combination, it also enables them to spray when the ground was previously too wet to travel.
Here’s how they did it
While the used Househam Sprint had just 800hr on the clock, it also came with outdated technology.
The Hargreaves called in LH Agro to upgrade it to 11 sections, with fully automatic control.
Now 11 sections are controlled automatically by the top-of-the-range Topcon X35 console, which provides automatic section control and auto-steer capability. It is also able to run variable rate applications as well as individual nozzle control.
LH Agro modified the joystick to now include a switch to control the left and right boom sections as well as a master reset. It still retains its original boom height and tilt functions.
A Topcon AGI-4 GPS receiver and steering controller on a bespoke, quick release LH Agro bracket on the cab roof. The receiver is currently using a free EGNOS signal, but the future-proof fitment is also RTK and auto-steer enabled.
Topcon’s Apollo CM-40 sprayer application ECU links to the X35 console to control the sprayer. As well as automatic section control, it is also capable of controlling individual nozzles and can be used to automate tank filling and washing functions.
The sprayer’s five section valve controllers prior to the conversion (pic 01), are now joined by a further six electric section shut-off valves (pic 02).
Topcon’s xTend app allows the sprayer to be controlled remotely via a smartphone or tablet outside the cab. It also offers the option to use these devices as secondary screen in the sprayer’s cab.
As well as making it faster, more accurate and more efficient to complete their own work, the upgraded sprayer also enables the Hargreaves to offer a local spray contracting service.