Dr. Norbert Uppenkamp, NRW Chamber of Agriculture

As in 2017, registrations for the Agritechnica 2019 DLG innovations list in the area of fertilization technology were dominated by registrations concerning the topic of farm fertilizer spreading. The Fertilizer Ordinance regulations are also influencing technical development in this segment. The compulsory requirement of increased spreading close to the ground is causing companies to deal with the technical problems, particularly in the case of large working widths. The same applies to the difficulty of also practically spreading small quantities of liquid manure.

Manufacturer Solutions

Amazone and Rauch are turning their attention to two topic areas which have so far been neglected or completely disregarded in mineral fertilization. With its 'EasyMix' app, Amazone is addressing the problem of spreading fertilizer blends. With the objective of using inexpensive straight fertilizers and simultaneously outputting several nutrients in the desired ratio, fertilizer blends are mixed decentrally to an extensive extent. So far, farmers have primarily been left to their own devices in the matter of the correct fertilizer spreader setting. Apart from a few fertilizer blends with a defined nutrient ratio and defined starting components that are manufactured as standard, there are so far no aids such as setting charts for the primarily decentrally manufactured, needs-oriented fertilizer mixes which enable the fertilizer spreader to be set optimally according to the characteristics of the fertilizer blend.

With the 'EasyMix' app from Amazone, the lateral distribution of the individual components can be estimated and the optimum fertilizer spreader setting for the blend can be determined even prior to blending on twin disc spreaders after entering the fertilizer spreader characteristics, the working width and the planned blend components. The interactions of the individual components on the spreading disc and their different flight characteristics are taken into consideration when determining the anticipated spreading quality. The risk of uneven nutrient distribution due to unsuitable blend components, an excessively large working width or incorrect fertilizer spreader settings is significantly reduced thanks to this app.

Today, progress in control and regulation technology in combination with high-performance data networks is also enabling the influence of slopes to be taken into consideration during spreading with broadcasters. Spreading fertilizer on a slope leads to problems due to the fact that the output point and the spraying distance of the fertilizer pellets are changed. This not only shifts the spray pattern downslope but also distorts it. A low drop height between the doser and spreading disc, forced guidance of the fertilizer onto the spreading disc or a radar-supported measuring system to determine the spreading pattern at the spreading discs help to reduce or correct the change in the output point. So far, however, no system is able to compensate the changed spraying distance on a slope. This is made possible by the 'HillControl' system from Rauch; in combination with an inclination and yaw rate sensor, its software improves the distribution accuracy of disc spreaders when spreading fertilizer on hilly terrain by changing the output point, disc speed and dosing quantity. Excessive and insufficient dosing when driving over brows and through depressions is additionally reduced.

From sensor systems for contents to small-scale variation of the output quantity, precision farming technologies are being further developed for both mineral fertilizer and farm fertilizer spreading.

In the MultiRate dosing system for pneumatic fertilizer spreaders from Rauch, the dosing devices of each individual fertilizer outlet aperture are electrically driven independently of one another and are continuously adjustable. With a voltage of 48 volts, the electric drive enables very short adjustment times and therefore fast variation of the fertilizer quantity even in the direction of travel. Transverse to the direction of travel, fertilizer output can be varied in 1.2 meter-wide strips, leading to significantly higher spatial resolution in comparison with previous options. During fertilization according to an application chart, the specified values are implemented more precisely; when spreading on wedge-shaped land and around corners, excessive and insufficient dosing is significantly reduced. Boundary spreading can also be optimized by adjusting the quantity at the outer fertilizer outlet aperture in combination with a boundary spreading deflector plate. Even with large working widths of up to 36 meters, small-scale biotopes within a field, for instance, can be specifically omitted from fertilization.

Samson uses a sensor based on NMR technology (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) rather than the familiar near infrared sensors (NIRS) to determine nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in liquid manure. This enables liquid manure content analysis without matrix-dependent calibration requirements and therefore promises to reduce errors in liquid manure analysis. Initial laboratory comparisons already reveal a good match between laboratory values and NMR sensor systems. In combination with the Isobus Section Control system and VRA variable output quantity control system, Samson is also offering a closed-loop chain for implementing precision farming for liquid manure spreading.

Partial area-specific fertilization also includes quantity regulation during operation. In addition to the vehicle speed, changing the pump speed on pump tankers, bypass control and the distributor head with flow regulation, Fliegl presented a further variant for efficient quantity regulation in the form of its new FLEXFLOW screw conveyor dispenser. On a standard screw conveyor dispenser, holes for the discharges are let into a trough. With this further development, the trough is supplemented by a second trough with elongated holes. The two troughs with their different holes can be pushed against one another, resulting in outlet apertures of different sizes. The holes can also be quickly and temporarily set to maximum overlap, thus countering the risk of clogging.

Liquid Manures Increasingly Spread Close to the Ground

With working widths of 6 and 9 meters, the Tribus combination slurry injector from Evers can be used in grain crops, on stubble and on grassland. It consists of a first implement row with large, trailing discs that cut the ground and allow the liquid manure to infiltrate. A disc harrow and a bar roller are arranged behind this. All three implement rows are used on stubble to ideally work in the liquid manure. On grassland or in grain crops, the second and third rows can be raised hydraulically so that only the discs of the first row cut open the soil and deposit the liquid manure.

With high fertilizer output, a thick layer of liquid manure can be bothersome, particularly on grassland. With the Fliegl TWIN trailing shoe nozzle, the number of outlets is doubled and the line spacing is halved to 12.5 centimeters. This metal nozzle, which is mounted on a trailing shoe, therefore also halves the amount of liquid manure per outlet without significantly increasing the weight of the linkage.

There is another disadvantage to large working widths: a distributor has to supply a higher number of trailing shoes. The difference in the length of the hose from the distributor to the trailing shoe therefore increases and the customary 'V' at the start of the distribution work becomes larger. To avoid this effect, Bomech is offering its 18-24 meter-wide trailing shoe distributor with four cutter distributors instead of two standard distributors. Each distributor therefore only has to cover half of the otherwise usual working width, thus improving distribution accuracy on the headland and when processing wedge-shaped areas.

Fliegl is dealing with the problem of soil loading caused by driving over it several times. As an alternative to complex telescopic axles or Ackerman steering systems for driving in crab steering mode, Fliegl has developed the Twist crab steering system for liquid manure tankers. During turntable steering, the axle as a whole by rotated by up to 11 degrees around the vertical axis, ultimately resulting in the hauled vehicle driving completely offset to the towing vehicle. The liquid manure distributor is also attached to this axle construction, and therefore swivels along automatically so that pulling in a straight line is always achieved.