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Idea of the Month: Tanker Turned Tender

If you feel like you’re twiddling your thumbs during applicator fills, northeast Iowa’s Jason Reis can relate.

“It was frustrating just standing there, waiting for it to transfer,” he recalls.

At Reis’ farm, he – along with his father, brother, uncle and cousin – isn’t frustrated anymore. A major upgrade to the tanker they use as a tender has cut their fill time by two thirds. 


The primary time-saver is the 400-gpm, 4-inch pump powered by a salvaged John Deere 855 lawn tractor diesel engine. That installation replaced two 2-inch pumps. 

The 35-foot-long articulated swing arm they built makes setup go faster, too. Its reach and flexibility give more leeway for stable positioning of both the trailer and sprayer or applicator. 

“It’s not hurting anyone’s back, either,” Reis points out.

Pivoting in three places, the final section reaches toward the ground because of the boom height.
It's a performer
The swing arm and fill system are now operating for a fourth year, although the tank and trailer are original. 

“It’s a rebuilt milk tanker that Dad and I redid and reinforced,” says Reis. The tanker holds 5,000 gallons, so they can complete two fills of the 28% liquid nitrogen. 

When this idea first began to hatch, they went looking for high horsepower at a reasonable cost and learned about the neighbor’s wrecked John Deere lawn tractor. They used that engine and the chassis. 

Reis says it took time to figure out the length, angles, and the proper places for the arm to pivot. 

He says they first tested it to check for leaks, for example, in the winter with plain water. He chuckles when he recalls that day. “The pressure was so strong it pushed Shane, our hired guy, backwards on the ice!” says Reis.

They left the volume turned up.  

“It once took 20 minutes for a fill; now it takes about seven,” says Reis. “Add up the days and the acres, and this makes for a very quick turnaround time. Since we use it as a tender, it really keeps the sidedressing moving along.”

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