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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.”
Because the cart is
steerable, the rear tires follow the tires on the applicator.
Gerber applies about 30
pounds of nitrogen in poultry litter and another 10 pounds with the planter.
He sidedresses about 100
pounds of nitrogen in every other row middle. Consequently, the 12-row machine
only has six openers. That reduces both the horsepower needed to pull the
applicator and the amount of soil disturbed.