Over the past 10 years, sprayers have grown to super-size proportions to meet the needs of larger producers.
“But large sprayers don't fit every farm or application,” says Ken Lehmann, Case IH. “Having a wide range of product offerings allows us to meet customer requirements. And some of those customers desire a smaller sprayer. Whether they're looking for light and nimble, a sprayer to match the size of their farm, tank capacity to match their tendering setup, or a lower cost unit, having a smaller offering provides solutions for those growers who can't justify the purchase of a larger capacity sprayer.”
Companies take note
Within the last three years, companies like Case IH, John Deere, and Hagie Manufacturing have noticed this latest trend to downsized sprayers, and they've introduced machines to fill that need.
“In just the past three years, John Deere has introduced a 600-gallon sprayer, and Case IH has released an 800-gallon sprayer. Along with our recent introduction of the STX10 1,000-gallon sprayer, the emphasis on the midsize farmer has been increased,” says Jim Williams, Hagie Manufacturing. “We have seen an increase in the number of applications being made and an increased focus in the timing of those applications.”
Williams notes that there has also been an increased awareness of machine weight and compaction, and he says, “Both have influenced the design of smaller machines.”
John Deere's Nick Weinrich says they are hearing the same thing from midsize growers related to timing. But he notes that increasing efficiencies is also important.
“There is a trend focusing on the midsize farmer due to more demand to put fertilizer and chemicals on when needed,” says Weinrich. “Customers are looking for a machine that fits their operation. They are looking for features and opportunities in a sprayer that will increase their productivity and efficiency to get their acres covered in the time frame needed, based on the crop's demand for nutrient and chemicals.”
It has created the perfect storm for the sprayer manufacturing industry, as more and more growers continue to see the advantages of applying fertilizer and chemicals themselves.
Weinrich says it may not be common knowledge, but up until 2009, when the 4630 (600-gallon machine) was introduced, Deere was producing a 400-gallon machine — the 6700.
“When it came time to replace the 6700, customers were asking for a more productive and efficient machine,” Weinrich says.
Price is a factor
“The big influence to design a machine that fits into this category is price,” says Weinrich. “If midsize farmers are wanting to apply their own fertilizer and chemicals, they have to be able to afford the machine to do it. A smaller, lower priced machine gives them the ability to buy new, with the benefits of integrated technology, such as automatic guidance, swath control, and rate control.”
Deere is also seeing customers move from pull-type sprayers to self-propelled machines.