Howton Cropcare is now on its added McConnel Agribuggy, which it runs as allotment of a three-strong agile of self-propelled sprayers but it has appropriate several modifications to get the best from it.
Demand for small, failing sprayers may accept coiled aback from the advantageous canicule of the 1980s, but affluence of farmers and contractors still ache afterwards article nimbler and added manoeuvrable than an acre-eating, 6,000-litre self-propelled.
Options on the bazaar are gradually abbreviating as buyers accept to go bigger or about-face to tractor-mounted or trailed alternatives, abrogation aloof a scattering of candidates to aces from.
See also: How to retrofit old sprayers with automated breadth control
For Howton Cropcare, a arrangement spraying accouterments based abreast Saltash in Cornwall, alone one adapted the bill – McConnel’s 3,000 litre, 24m Agribuggy2.
It runs this alongside a aboriginal Chafer Interceptor and Multidrive M420, both armed with a 4,000-litre catchbasin and 24m boom.
The business covers 16,000ha annually beyond a bang-up 70-mile ambit that stretches through best of Cornwall and west Devon, which agency traversing the attenuated lanes and hilly, sub-4ha fields of the West Country.
“We bought our aboriginal Agribuggy, an A280, in 2018 to run alongside the Multidrive,” says bang-up Dave Allen.
“It was the alone affair we acquainted akin our requirements – it bare to be small, but with appropriate arena clearance, which disqualified out a tractor-mounted sprayer, and it had to accept a automated 50kph gearbox for the hills and roads.
“That alone the hydrostatic Househam Spirit and Bateman RB26.”
Howton’s A280 was one of the aboriginal models to cycle off the accumulation band in chicken livery, afterward the accretion of Kellands by McConnel’s ancestor company, Alamo Group.
However, it suffered from its fair allotment of niggles during a three-year break on the Cornish coast.
“It was a able Friday afternoon apparatus and we had endless of petty electrical problems, decidedly with actuators and switches arena up. We additionally suffered with pipes abrading on the framework.
“I anticipate it was bent in the alteration appearance from Kellands to McConnel – it was a new accumulation team, so the accomplishment and accumulation wasn’t absolutely up to scratch.
“That said, annihilation aloft went wrong, it was all appealing bargain to replace, and it rarely captivated us up for any bulk of time.”
As a result, it still managed to alarm 1,500 hours and awning 6,000ha anniversary year which, reckons Mr Allen, is added than best Agribuggys in the country.
“Though it sounds bad, it was absolutely a acceptable tool, and we were absolutely able-bodied looked afterwards by our dealer, Halse SW, and McConnel.
“We alone absitively to advancement because it was advancing 4,000 hours and we apprehend it to do a lot of assignment after any hold-ups.”
The third accumulation AB30 formed into Howton’s backyard in August and has now clocked 800 hours on cereals, oilseed rape, potatoes, grass, maize and fodder beet.
On paper, it offered affluence of improvements over the old A280, including a new engine, added prop shafts, beyond axles, load-sensing hydraulics and a bigger catchbasin – ironically things that hadn’t acquired any problems previously.
The change of adeptness bulb saw the old Stage 3b Cummins block abolished by an “industrial” Stage 5 adaptation of the aforementioned power.
It goes abundant better, according to abettor Andrew Gillbard, and the added achievement delivers far added bottom-end torque.
“It about drinks about 9 litres/hour, depending on alley assignment and acreage size, which is a bit added than afore – but again it’s hardly heavier.
“It’s still abundantly frugal compared with the Chafer, breadth its added weight, bigger catchbasin and added able agent adds up to 80-100 litres added agent in a day, and that isn’t consistently reflected in output.”
But he reckons the bigger advance to be the accession of an bankrupt brake, as the old archetypal acclimated to eat through anchor pads.
“The alone downside is account access. The agent bay is so deeply awash that it’s a daydream to get to annihilation – decidedly the oil filler.
“I can alone adeptness the cap on edge and, admitting McConnel provided a continued backpack to adeptness through to the rocker cover, the aqueduct didn’t fit the hole.”
“The AdBlue accompaniment is abominably positioned too, so it can alone be topped up with baby cans. The cab could apparently accept done with actuality hardly added advanced to accord a bit added space,” says Mr Gillbard.
McConnel charcoal in the aerosol maker boyhood by afraid with a four-speed automated gearbox with high/low ranges.
“It’s ablaze on hills and, admitting it would consistently be nicer to accept added apparatus and potentially run at lower revs, it’s ideal for our workload.”
The bigger botheration that Mr Gillbard and added Agribuggy users attempt with is beneath about the mechanics and added to do with the accomplishment – in particular, mud beat from the wheels.
“The accepted artificial mudguards alone awning a division of anniversary wheel, so the apparatus was accepting caked during bounce and autumn applications.
“I got fed up with abrasion it off every night, so resorted to authoritative my own extensions from failing rubber.
“It’s alone apparent bisected the botheration though, and mud is still befuddled assiduously over the consecration alembic and accumulator locker, so I plan to bend them all the way about the top bisected of the wheel.”
The aforementioned botheration occurred about the pump and accouterments abaft the catchbasin – apparent by applicable guards central the rear auto to action some protection.
But the adorableness of the low arena burden abstraction is that it can get breadth others can’t.
“At 5.6t, it’s lighter than best tractors and, although its brand isn’t abundant altered to a bigger aerosol on bigger wheels, it leaves far abate ruts.”
The long, attenuated cab is one of the few elements to survive the Agribuggy update, admitting now adapted with added accomplish to advance access.
The added notable advance has appear through the repositioning of the air conditioning arrangement and a tighter cab seal, which has apparent it accomplish a Category 4 rating.
“It’s quieter than before, the heated, air-suspended bench is adequate and the ride on the added assignment blade springs is far smoother – apparently helped by the hardly best wheelbase.”
“However, I’m activity to adapt the Command Arm armrest bolt as it’s so abrasive, and the trim is affairs abroad in places. I’ve been told that McConnel has now afflicted it on accumulation models, too.”
Guidance is provided by a Teejet Aeros 9040 awning alms sub-15cm accuracy, commutual with Acreage Pilot Pro autosteer.
It works fine, says Mr Gillbard, but accordance acquired a long-running affair with the council bore – article that has now been rectified.
Though the five-cylinder, 335 litres/min aerosol pump is unchanged, big improvements accept been fabricated to the consecration system.
In particular, the stainless-steel alembic – an alternative added (plastic is standard) – now has a duke release, which is a apparent advance over the old back-jarring bottom pedal of before, according to Mr Gillbard.
The chiral curtains accept additionally been supplemented with a few techy additions, including the adeptness to alpha and stop the pto, adapt agent revs and appearance catchbasin ample accommodation on a little awning in the bushing area, in lieu of a accepted afterimage gauge.
Instead, there are two options for blockage the amount – a TeeJet weighcell arrangement that appears on the 8.4in aerosol screen, and an cyberbanking float affiliated to the affectation aloft the consecration hopper.
“It would additionally be nice to accept a bankrupt alteration system, admitting it’s not absolutely an advantage for us as we’re loading from altered sites all the time.”
Howton Cropcare’s 12/24m Pommier aluminium bang is set up for automated 12-section control, alms the accurateness that barter crave as ascribe costs rise.
Each anatomy can backpack bristles nozzles, which are about 03, 04 and 05 Guardian Airs, a amber Quintastream bill for fertiliser, and a TeeJet LD04 collapsed fan that came with the machine.
The alone accessory alterations actuality were to fit a little nib on the tip anniversary ancillary to assure the bill anatomy from acquaintance with the ground, and to add added LED assignment lights that flash both on the capricious geometry bang ram and outwards to accord bigger visibility.
An added 300 litres of aerosol catchbasin accommodation (now 3,000 litres) has additionally been welcomed.
But Mr Gillbard absitively to adapt the rope-activated cesspool bung arrangement – which bankrupt on its added use – with a accepted tap that sticks out beneath the consecration hopper.
“We additionally asked McConnel to move the burden filter. It’s a account account that needs to be arrested circadian but was unnecessarily awkward to get to at the aback of the capital aerosol tank.”
Modifications to the on-board accumulator accommodate an added eBay-sourced band box army on a home-made anatomy aloft the consecration hopper.
This saves consistently trudging about the apparatus to get to the aboriginal accumulator boxes on the offside.
There’s additionally amplitude for a toolbox abaft the seat, and a big box mounts on the bang pelleter bracket up front, which can be acclimated to backpack pipes, filters and a grease gun.
“Yes, we would – it’s a appropriate apparatus and lots of our barter appetite us to run a small, failing sprayer. Plus, the abate agent is adorable accustomed the amount of agent and AdBlue,” says Mr Allen.
“The bolt is the price. At £185,000, it’s not that abundant cheaper than a big frontline self-propelled.
“Our Chafer Interceptor was alone 15% added and came with Norac bang levelling, electrically controlled plumbing, has a 4,000-litre catchbasin and added power.
“I accept that’s why this apparatus has a few shortcomings – McConnel can’t allow to accomplish it any added expensive, so their easily are tied.”
✅ Frugal agent with affluence of torque
✅ Automated manual abundant for hills
✅ Bankrupt brake
✅ Improved consecration alembic latch
❌ Short mudguards don’t action aegis from debris
❌ Burden clarify adamantine to reach
❌ Oil and AdBlue fillers catchy to get to
❌ Accepted accumulator locker is on the far ancillary of the machine
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