Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 April 2018

Machinery: Double action - twin disc fertiliser spreaders

Twin disc fertiliser spreaders are now the norm as farm sizes increase and farmers look for increased accuracy on spreading

The average dairy farmer can expect to pay between €4,500 and €7,500 including VAT for a good fertiliser spreader
The average dairy farmer can expect to pay between €4,500 and €7,500 including VAT for a good fertiliser spreader
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

Nearly every farm on the country has a fertiliser spreader of one kind or another. It is a fundamental piece of farm machinery regardless of the main farm enterprise, so unsurprisingly there is a huge choice of spreaders available in terms of manufacturers and specification level.

Regardless of type, fertiliser spreaders must essentially perform two functions. The first is to meter the flow of fertiliser to the spreading mechanism. Secondly, they distribute it across the spreading width to produce a uniform application.

So what is the most common seller in terms of machine size, and what can you expect to pay for a new spreader? In years gone by the oscillating spout and single disc type spreaders were widely used with many still to be seen on farms around the country.

But according to trade sources, as farm size increases the demand for bigger machines with greater output means twin disc machines are now the norm. Your average twin disc spreader will hold 2x600kg fertiliser bags with comfort, tends to have good accuracy levels and fairly modest pricing at entry level spec. Manufacturers of twin disc spreaders available on the Irish market include Amazone, Rauch, Sulky and Bogballe.

These well-known makes are imported into Ireland by Farmhand Ltd, Cork Farm Machinery, Farmec Ltd, and Atkins Farm Machinery, respectively.

There is a wide array of prices, ranging from just €1,000 for entry level single disc spreaders, right up to €35,000 for the most cutting edge spreader, depending on model and specification.

But the average dairy farmer can expect to pay between €4,500 and €7,500 including VAT for a good spreader.

Market focus

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Let's look at Amazone and Sulky by way of two examples. Currently the most popular Amazone spreaders to suit the average dairy farmer are the ZAM Stockman 2 and Stockman 3 models. According to Val McCauley, sales support manager with Amazone importers Farmhand Ltd, the Stockman 2 will hold 1500l (2 x 600kg bags) with comfort. The Stockman 3 will hold 2200l, or two tonnes of fertiliser.

Both of these machines are supplied as standard with sieves, a folding cover, safety rail, rear lights, a calibration bucket and instruction books. These machines are fitted with double shutters and can be supplied with either 10m-16m or 18m-24m spreading discs.

In terms of pricing, the Stockman 2 with a folding hopper cover and road lights lists at €6,350 plus VAT. The bigger Stockman 3 with a folding hopper and road lights lists at €7,670 plus VAT.

There are several options for border spreading to maintain compliance with schemes, ranging from €150 to €1,100 plus VAT. All parts of the spreading system are made from stainless steel.

Mr McCauley suggests that all bigger dairy farmers (those spreading over 70 tonnes of fertiliser per season) should consider a weigh cell machine. "From customer feedback we believe there is savings of approximately 3-4pc to be had through the use of an online weigh cell system and the electric setting shutter control, which is controlled by the forward speed of the tractor," he explains.

"The initial cost is higher, but for big volumes farmers and contractors always come back to us within a season or two delighted with the savings they are making."

Turning to another popular seller in Ireland, Sulky importers Farmec Ireland Ltd will this season be promoting the DX and X series, a new range that provides increased accuracy, higher capacity, more spreading widths and increased operator comfort.

Hopper capacities range from 900 litres up to 3000 litres, and spreading widths range from 9m up to 36m. Two simple and logical controls set the application rates and working widths which is a Sulky patent.

Accuracy and consistency is assured with full width overlap between inward and outward passes with high tolerance to setting errors, cross winds and low quality fertiliser.

The outlet shutters are located on the sloped hopper wall and with the pulsating rate regulator, a constant and consistent flow of fertiliser is assured irrespective of the weight of fertiliser in the hopper.

According to Farmec Ireland's Jennie Daly, all working parts are made from stainless steel, and, crucially, the one piece stainless steel hopper bottom ensures a constant delivery of fertiliser and total emptying of the hopper. Gearboxes carry a three year manufacturer's warranty. The DX range retail selling price starts at €4,000 plus VAT.

Indo Farming