Piggyback caddy floats over terraces
As Mel Gerber shopped for anhydrous ammonia (NH3) sidedressing equipment, he found lots of good ideas but no implements that met his specific needs.
His biggest challenge was finding equipment with enough flexibility to cross tall, steep broad-base terraces in any direction. That’s when he and his long-term employees – Ken Aeschbacher, Dean Loganbill, and Nathan Shelton – decided to build the applicator and trailing cart shown here.
Most of the ground Gerber farms near Versailles, Missouri, has long 3% to 5% slopes and is terraced.
“We have been no-till planting straight over those terraces for years because square is almost always more efficient than having point rows,” says Gerber. “We wanted to be able to sidedress straight over the terraces without tearing them up and without raising the anhydrous knives out of the ground. And we wanted to be able to pull the cart at high speeds without knocking down corn.”
The applicators he looked at had single-arm openers that would come out of the ground when crossing terraces. The applicator he built has openers with parallel linkage and hydraulic down pressure. They have about 20 inches of up-and-down travel. That’s enough to keep them in the ground when crossing terraces.
The cart, which carries a conventional NH3 running gear and tank, has an equal amount of flexibility. At first glance, it looks like the steerable cart has four 18.4×26 tires. Actually, what looks like the front tires on the cart are really the back tires on the applicator. “With those big tires, we don’t have to worry about wet ground or flat tires,” says Gerber. The applicator is a pull-type implement with a tongue rather than one that attaches to the three-point on the tractor.
The front of the steerable cart is mounted to a gooseneck ball at the rear of the applicator.
“By allowing the cart to pivot on that single ball, the applicator and coulters can go over a terrace first at whatever angle they need to be,” Gerber explains. “The cart is independent, so it can twist and turn and dip any way to follow the contour.”