Pulse-width modulation has been a topic of enthusiastic dialog amongst keen sprayer operators, nevertheless one farm hopes to get a great deal of the benefits with out such a steep up-front worth.

Arable enterprise HA Day and Sons has been steadily evolving its sprayer setup over the earlier 15 years and its newest substitute is an Altek Sensible-C-Spray 124 system.

Like PWM nevertheless with out limits on nozzle choice, the experience has significantly elevated the accuracy of the company’s Househam Merlin self-propelled sprayer.

See moreover: Pulse-width modulation spraying – is it nicely definitely worth the money?

Correct shut-off

Since GPS steering was launched, many crop producers have been benefiting from the enhancements in sprayer accuracy it could nicely current, primarily to try to keep up a lid on increasingly more costly chemical funds.

Farm data

HA Day & Sons, Greet Farm, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

  • Cropped house 810ha
  • Rotation Winter wheat, spring wheat, oilseed rape, spring linseed, cereal rye, plus land rented for veg, along with salad onions and vining peas
  • Soil kinds Majority heavy clay, plus Cotswold brash and grade 2 irrigated land
  • Employees One full-time and 5 relations

The pure evolution from information half administration was adopting a GPS-controlled equal, which takes stress off the operator, reduces overlap on headlands and slows operator fatigue.

Nevertheless, James Wilson – who runs HA Day and Sons alongside his father, uncle and two cousins – tells Farmers Weekly that the enterprise skipped that step and went straight to explicit particular person nozzle shut off better than a decade previously.

Certainly one of its earlier Househam sprayers was kitted out with the solenoid-controlled Sensible Nozzle from German producer Altek Worldwide.

The company developed the twin line, single-nozzle GPS shut-off system together with US agency Harrison Ag Applied sciences, and it was run by the use of an Android capsule, so considered method ahead of its time.

“Lots of people questioned the necessity for particular person nozzle shut-off again then, as most had been solely simply stepping into normal part management.

“We had been an early adopter and made large financial savings on chemical compounds. It labored out about 17% much less in comparison with guide operation.”

System enhance

The Sensible Nozzles survived all through two of the farm’s sprayers until it invested in its current 24m, 4,000-litre Househam Merlin in 2016.

At this degree, it was decided to enhance the sprayer’s system in readiness for advances in variable-rate software program, so instead of Sensible Spray on two traces, Mr Wilson opted for 4 traces with Multi-Spray Direct Management Quad nozzle our our bodies.

The system as soon as extra used Harrison Ag Expertise software program program and labored properly for explicit particular person nozzle shut-off, nevertheless after 5 seasons the farm wished additional efficiency and swapped it for Altek’s new Sensible-C-Spray (see “Altek Sensible-C-Spray 124”).

Now operated using software program program programmed by Danish agency Lykketronic on Househam’s private terminal, it has run simply and equipped many additional choices to boost sprayer effectivity, with additional throughout the pipeline.

At present, the operator can quickly and easily toggle between 4 nozzles manually on the touchscreen, choosing most likely probably the most relevant tip for aim cost, forward velocity, software program form or circumstances.

Nevertheless, Sensible-C-Spray is ready to variable-rate software program at each outlet and unlocking this attribute is Mr Wilson’s eventual intention.

Nozzle flexibility

When enabled, the system will mechanically change to the acceptable nozzle or combination of nozzles for the desired cost at any given second.

It’s this aspect that he sees as one of the best good thing about Altek’s system over pulse-width modulation kits equipped by some producers, which are moreover in a position to varied cost at each outlet.

PWM strategies are tied to a single nozzle form, whereas the Sensible-C-Spray is suitable with any typical nozzle, along with air induction, so might assist the operator mitigate any drift risk.

One other profit, says Mr Wilson, is the Canbus-controlled pneumatic opening and shutting of valves with the Altek Sensible-C-Spray. This leads to quite a bit a lot much less power draw than the PWM system, which relies upon solely on electronics.

As a consequence, there’s a lot much less wiring and a relatively delicate load for the booms which, blended with the modular nature of the “daisy chain” configuration, means fault discovering is straightforward.

“We attempt to repair most issues ourselves. I’m positive you are able to do that with PWM, however this appears a lot less complicated from the analysis I’ve completed,” explains Mr Wilson.

He offers that there aren’t many sprayer producers offering PWM and the value is vital on prime of a model new machine.

“For us, the Altek system was a less expensive and versatile possibility. It will also be taken off this sprayer and retrofitted to the subsequent one, so we may preserve it if we wished to.”

Patch spraying

The usage of mapping choices throughout the system’s Lykketronic software program program has moreover confirmed itself to a terrific device in combating blackgrass.

This was demonstrated during the last cropping 12 months, when the legacy of the moist winter meant establishment was poor in some fields.

The place winter wheat was skinny or non-existent, blackgrass had gained a foothold and was present in extreme numbers throughout the spring.

A drone was used to take aerial imagery of the problem fields, allowing maps of the poor patches to be drawn up and the following shapefiles uploaded to the sprayer’s administration unit.

With automated explicit particular person nozzle administration on 50cm spacings, it was then attainable to exactly spray out the poor patches with glyphosate with minimal hurt to any healthful crop.

Mr Wilson says, in the end, solely 33% of the sector was sprayed out because of appropriate mapping and computerized software program, so weed destruction was maximised with minimal crop loss.

“In a single explicit subject, we’d have both misplaced all of it as a result of it might have been so tough to patch spray, or it might’ve been left to set seed, creating a multitude for the next season,” he offers.

Househam Merlin

Househam Merlin © Adam Clarke

The system not solely helped save an outstanding crop and cease blackgrass seed return, nevertheless by flipping the maps, Mr Wilson solely sprayed the remaining spring inputs the place they’d been wished on healthful crop.

In hindsight, he wants the selection to spray poor patches off had been made earlier, as he would have saved on fungicide that was blanket utilized all through affected fields.

“Because it was, we saved on the ultimate fertiliser dose in these areas. Now we all know we’ve got that means, we are going to use it extra successfully sooner or later.”

The combination of mapping and automatic explicit particular person nozzle administration has moreover equipped a revenue spherical boundaries, with margins established on the entire farm’s fields.

The system exactly ensures no chemical is utilized on these areas if a progress unintentionally sweeps over the set space boundary. The software program program moreover permits easy modifying of boundaries if important.

Unlocking choices

At present, Mr Wilson’s system has explicit particular person nozzle shut-off, quad our our bodies for versatile nozzle selection (information), easy-to-use mapping software program program and variable-rate liquid fertiliser software program all through the expansion.

Because it was the first throughout the UK to have the system fitted, it is missing some key choices, along with variable-rate administration at each outlet.

Enabling this attribute will unlock what’s dubbed “excessive definition” variable-rate software program, considerably than merely all through all the expansion or progress sections, and is particularly useful for fertiliser capabilities.

It moreover permits Altek’s “True Flip” flip compensation attribute, which prevents beneath or overdosing when the sprayer is popping all through software program.

It makes use of GPS to work out how tight the automobile is popping, then computer algorithms calculate the rate at each nozzle and modify output to maintain up the aim cost.

All that is required is an easy software program program substitute to unlock these choices, nevertheless Altek says it is now customary on all Sensible-C-Spray strategies.

“We have to optimise fertiliser use specifically, however I’m aware that the information that we put into the machine needs to be good,” says Mr Wilson.

With the lower determination and reliability of satellite tv for pc television for computer imagery, this means the farm will doubtlessly look to spend cash on a fixed-wing drone with high-resolution sensor to maximise the benefits.

“When you use a satellite tv for pc picture with 24m decision, you’ve misplaced the benefit of getting a system that may variably apply at 50cm. Drone picture high quality is a distinct degree.”

Simple operation?

The Altek system does require an outstanding understanding of computer strategies and can get additional superior as additional merchandise are utilized using the variable-rate function, because of it entails additional crop information administration and map creation.

The need for this skillset among the many many farm staff is a consideration for these attempting to undertake the experience.

Nevertheless, the farm’s sprayer operator, Cookie, has been working in farming for better than 50 years, predominantly with out computer experience, and has been able to work the system out quickly for competent day-to-day operation.

Mr Wilson says that’s testament to the intuitive and user-friendly nature of the controls.

Since having the first UK system fitted in autumn 2020, there have been no factors with any of the {{hardware}} and only one or two software program program niggles which had been remedied thus far.

“They’ve been very minor and I can’t fault the assist we’ve had from Altek in sorting them out.”

Altek Sensible-C-Spray 124

What’s it?

A retrofit spraying system that comprises a sequence of modular Clever Community Controller (INC) 2.0 Canbus objects mounted to the sprayer progress.

Auto Nozzle Select

Auto Nozzle Choose © Adam Clarke

These INCs administration Altek’s Multi-Spray solenoid valves all through the expansion and could also be daisy-chained collectively to manage better than 55 valve objects, so in a position to working all through most trendy progress widths.

What are its key choices?

  • The INC can operate GPS automated half administration, each all through progress sections or proper right down to explicit particular person nozzle determination. Usually, spacings are at 50cm, nevertheless the system can go as low 25cm.

INC units control the solenoid valves on the boom

INC objects administration the solenoid valves on the expansion © Adam Clarke

  • Auto Nozzle Choose (ANS) mechanically selects the acceptable nozzle for current forward velocity or software program cost. Guide switching will also be attainable, allowing the operator to quickly change nozzle for varied circumstances or capabilities.
  • The ANS attribute requires twin or quad traces for a variety of nozzles to be used, individually or collectively, to manage output dynamically as velocity will improve or software program costs vary when using variable-rate software program maps.
  • The system is suitable with all nozzle kinds, along with air inclusion, and two or additional fertiliser nozzles might be utilized, along with dribble bar. This offers the operator flexibility all through all capabilities and circumstances.
  • True Flip shows progress velocity at each outlet and varies output relative to forward velocity. This ensures even software program when the sprayer begins to activate headlands or spherical obstacles. These are areas the place poor administration of weeds and sickness can occur by the use of underdosing.
  • Nozzle Spy transfer monitoring could also be added and warns operators when an individual outlet should not be working precisely.
  • The system is managed by Altek’s private 10in touchscreen LT PC terminal with built-in NavGuide GPS. It helps all often precision choices, along with RTK, variable cost by means of prescription maps, autosteer and filed information export.

Altek’s 10in touchscreen runs NavGuide GPS

Altek’s 10in touchscreen runs NavGuide GPS © Adam Clarke

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