Small sprayer fits expanding operation – Spring ’19 edition
A Cornish spray contractor has recently invested in one of the first yellow-liveried, McConnel-badged Agribuggy A280’s, in a bid to provide an ultra-low ground pressure option for its customers.
From Howton Farm near Saltash, Howton Cropcare handles over 12,500ha of applications each year. Dave Allen and co-directors Will Doidge and John Moss, have been gradually expanding the spraying business, and with it, the self-propelled fleet.
“We had been at one of those critical points where one sprayer wasn’t quite enough, and there just wasn’t quite enough work to keep two sprayers busy,” says Howton Cropcare director and sprayer operator Dave Allen. “The tipping point came when a 10,000-hour Bateman RB25 that we had access to for many years, just became too long in the tooth and far too unreliable.”
At the same time Dave had also spotted a niche opportunity that was being helped by legislation and the need for sprayer tests.
“Farms with 20 or 30 acres of cereals have found it increasingly difficult to justify keeping a sprayer up-to-scratch, let alone invest in a new one and all the training and record keeping that goes with it,” he says. “These growers are better off – both from a financial standpoint and with application timing – by using a spray contractor’s services.”
In Dave’s eyes, an additional sprayer had to not only cater for these new customers, but also offer very low ground pressure and work almost as efficiently as the MultiDrive. There was only one sensible option – a McConnel Agribuggy A280. Th post of full-time sprayer operator was created and eventually filled by experienced operator Andrew Gillbard.
Both Howton Cropcare’s sprayers have 24m booms, and both can be shod on low ground pressure tyres or row crop wheels. And, crucially, both sprayers use mechanical drivelines instead of the widely accepted and more commonplace hydrostatic drives.
“There are very few flat fields around Devon and Cornwall – most of the ground we run on has some element of slope, bank or hill,” he says. “And with road work too, a hydrostatic was never on our radar. There’s too much power loss and speed reduction with them.”
Bought as an ex-demonstrator machine, Howton Cropcare’s Agribuggy arrived in the Spring of 2018, laden with specification including auto-steer and a five-cylinder pump option, delivering 335 litres/min.
It also came with a Teejet control system, stainless steel induction hopper and a variable geometry boom with automatic control of 15 sections across its 24m width. “Guardian Air nozzles are a favourite, and forward speeds are pegged at 12k/hr,” explains Andrew. “Water volumes are typically 100 litres/ha unless the agronomist stipulates that higher volumes are required.”
Operator Andrew Gillbard is pleased with the Agribuggy, having come from a farm where his regular steed was a John Deere tractor with a 740i trailed sprayer.
“The Buggy is a comfortable sprayer to operate,” he says. “But we’ve had to make a few in-cab adjustments to suit. I’m not short, but the throttle pedal and steering switch pedal both needed moving closer to the seat to make up for a lack of adjustment in other areas.
With 800 hours on its clock and the honeymoon period is well and truly over, the business remains convinced of its two-machine approach to spray and fertiliser applications, adds Dave Allen.
Read more about the McConnel Agribuggy A280
Subscribers to Ei OPERATOR can read more information on the Agribuggy by heading to the Tech Focus section where we have taken a look at six key self-propelleds and compared the specification for each of them.
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