Increasing the agricultural performance depends directly on the use of fertilizers; this is one of the most effective ways to improve crop yields.
Note that the fertilizer system implies a set of cost-efficient agrotechnical procedures for the use of fertilizers, taking into account soil and climatic conditions, crop characteristics, as well as the types and characteristics of the substances being applied. Put in other words, using various types of products in pursuit of the final profit, it is important to preserve the soil structure, to maintain the quality and ecological properties of the produce collected from the fields while increasing its quantity.
Smart use of fertilizers requires their even distribution over the surface of the field or their accurate application directly to the seed bed or to the root zone of the plant during the tillering period. The feeding system also includes the selection of high-productive machinery providing optimal and precise dosing. Fertilizer spreaders stand out among the machinery of this kind. The units superficially apply solid dry mineral fertilizers, either granular or crystalline. There is a wide range of spreaders in the market. There are multifunctional machinery, e.g., broadcast seeders. LEHNER, the German manufacturer, specializes in the production of such types of machinery (click here to see a detailed review of the range).
To begin with, let's find out what is the design and typology of classic spreaders.
The main design components of fertilizer spreaders are the running system, the drive of the working tools, the body part (hopper), the hydraulic system, the conveyor and the spreading device, which consists of two disks and blades with additional extension rods. Changing the overall length of the blades allows for even feeding the granules onto the disks.
The hopper itself is loaded using a loader, which can be truck, tractor, or general-purpose. Fertilizer is fed to the distribution disks by means of the auger turner, and then it is spread evenly over the field surface in a fan-shaped pattern. The amount of fertilizer being applied is adjusted remotely or manually by a special lever, which sets different widths of the through holes.
The more expensive models are equipped with an electronic control and weighing system for the most accurate distribution of the fertilizer over the field. Basically, the kit also comes with transport wheels and a protective canvas top, which allows not to stop operation during rain.
By the method of coupling with a tractor, there are trailed and hitched models. Separately, manual spreaders should be mentioned, but they are mainly designed for limited applications and are designed for very small areas. By the type of spreading working tools, there are disk and rod types.
Hitched spreaders are mainly used in small areas with a small amount of fertilizer. The fastening system of this kind eliminates deep ruts on the field. Please note that not all models are suitable for working on a field with uneven contour, since the hitched units are sensitive to tilting. In this case, you need to choose options that have a built-in tilt sensor.
To reduce the load on the tractor hitch, or if it is necessary to couple it with a tractor of less power, trailed spreaders would do. As a rule, the volume of the hopper and the spreading range in trailed units is greater than in hitched ones.
There are hitched spreaders with hoppers with a volume of 850-4000 L, a spreading range of 10-52 m. Modern trailed models are equipped with hoppers with a volume of 5000-8000 L. Some models can have hoppers over 2000 L. Working width is from 10 to 58 m.
As the name implies, disk models are the units with spreading working tools in the form of disks. The simplicity of design, reliable and accurate spreading, low cost with high productivity are the most obvious advantages of such units.
Let's take a closer look at the technical features of the model using the example of disk spreaders by HF Agro.
The range of HF Ago double-disk spreaders includes models both trailed and hitched, with a tank volume of 900-3500 L and a spreading range of 10-36 cm. Trailed units come with a tank of 2000 L or more. Load capacity of the unit is 1000-1200 kg. Working speed is 8-12 km/h.
One of the important features of the unit is that the fertilizer supply valve is opened and closed from the tractor cab. This means that an operator can start or stop the supply of fertilizer at any time, thus eliminating skips or overspending of the substance being applied. In addition, the hydraulic valve allows for spreading fertilizer separately on the right and left sides.
The scope of supply may include a multi-purpose loader, a great helper for lifting heavy loads independently. By the way, it is multi-purpose for the reason that it can be used both together with a spreader and separately. One person can load fertilizer into the hopper or transport any kind of load throughout the farm with ease
Another way to apply fertilizer is to use spreaders with rod working tools. They are less popular in the market than disk units are. However, rod models are effective when using low-quality fertilizer, e.g., with a lot of dust. They are more expensive and require maintenance that is more complex. Depending on the way fertilizer is fed by pipelines to the rods, the units of this kind are categorized as mechanical and pneumatic ones, with screw, belt or scraper conveyors. Rod spreaders have a limited application rate control range of 10-180 kg/ha, therefore, they are not always suitable for main application.
An important requirement for fertilizing plants is efficiency and uniformity, so that each site receives the necessary dose of top dressing. That's what spreaders are for. The units may differ in design and technical characteristics, but they must fulfil their main function, i.e. to ensure accurate fertilizer application in the working width and direction of movement.
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