Regardless of type, fertiliser spreaders must essentially perform two functions; meter the flow of fertiliser and distribute it across the spreading width to give a uniform application.
These days the demand for bigger machines with greater output means twin disc machines are now the norm, even for entry level.
Your average twin disc spreader will hold 2x600kg fertiliser bags with comfort, tends to have good accuracy levels and fairly modest pricing at entry level spec. The large range of spreaders on the market leads to a wide array of prices, ranging from just €1,500 for the smallest single disc spreaders, right up to €35,000 for the most cutting-edge mounted spreader, depending on model and specification.
However, the biggest spreader in the country can be located in Eyrecourt, Co Galway as Declan Gilligan Agri operates a tandem axle Bredal K135.
“We spread bulk fertiliser for Liffey Mills in Banagher. We’re hoping to bring full loads over long distances with this machine. Our older K85 can bring a maximum of 9.5-10t of compound or 7-7.5t of urea,” Declan told Irish Tractor.
By contrast, the new K135 can carry 13.5t of compound or up to 11t of urea. He continued: “This spreader [the K135] has dynamic weigh-cells, which means she’s calibrating while you’re spreading.
“The machine itself is on a steering axle, to help it get in and out of places. The spreader is run by Topcon’s GPS system and Class auto steer. She will go anywhere that the single-axle [machine] can go. She’s travelling ground better than the single-axle [spreader]. She has less compaction on the ground, which is also a help.”
Mineral fertilisers require particularly gentle treatment to ensure precise distribution and transport out to the crop over the total working width. Fertiliser which has been already damaged by the spreader can no longer be spread evenly.
Accuracy and consistency is assured with full width overlap between inward and outward passes with high tolerance to setting errors, cross winds and low quality fertiliser.
The K series is a series of multi-spreader that can be used to spread multiple materials, depending on the equipment chosen. It can, amongst others, be used as a fertilizer and powdered lime spreader, which adds valuable flexibility to farmers and enables a higher utilization. The versatility and capacity of the K series make these spreaders unique.
Whether this involves the standard lime or fertilizer spreaders with SPC4500-2 spread unit, such as a K-XE or K-XE/SC version with a 6 m spread unit for working widths of up to 48 metres, mounted with a 12-metre spread auger (K135 only), conveyor belt for aggregate – these two versions are among the biggest in the market.
A bogie provides a substantially lower axle pressure, which reduces pressure damage in the field and also makes it possible to drive with a higher total weight on roads.
The rear axle is a secondary axle that can be hydraulically locked for driving in reverse and on roads.
The axles are spring-mounted and can be fitted with both hydraulic and pneumatic brakes. An ALB regulator for ideal braking is standard on bogies with pneumatic brakes. An externally controlled axle is available for bogie spreaders as an optional accessory.
In addition to a SPC4500-2 spread unit, the standard equipment of the K135 and K165 includes ISOBUS for controlled application, 12–16 m lime equipment (“K” discs and down chutes for spreading lime), an LED light boom and a ladder.
“I’m delighted with it, we are getting through the work a lot quicker since bringing in this machine,” added Declan who has been contracting for the past 21 years.
“I started off working for Liffey Mills in sales in 1993 and I started spreading and hauling in 2001. I have carried on doing the work for Liffey Mills and we would cover a large catchment area covering from Clarinbridge to Banagher and Tullamore to North Tipperary.
“We bale a lot of silage as well, so we are kept busy throughout the year, while we would also be delivering meal for Liffey Meals.”
To carry out this work to a high standard, Declan revealed that he has a state of the art fleet of machinery and tractors, all of which are upgraded on a regular basis.
“It is as easy to make a repayment of a new machine as it is to pay for repair work. The fleet would be upgraded on a regular basis and we would deal with the likes of Dolan Industries Ltd (Claremorris), Conor Breen (Cashel), Trevor Richardson and his staff in Atkins (Birr), all of who give a great service and are just a phone call away if I need them at any time, day or night.”
Of course, there are massive time constraints in this line of work and Declan stressed that when the window of opportunity is there, the work must be done.
“The weather dictates a lot in this line of work, so when you get a good spell, you have to make the most of it. April is probably our busiest month and everyone wants you, but we do our best to keep all of our customers happy, that has always been the aim and always will be.”
Declan Gilligan Agri
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 4, July/August 2021