Condor Makes Liquid Fertilizer Application A Breeze

Published 15th June 2011
New Zealand

Situated near Tutira in the Hawkes Bay, Shaun Ross farms a total of 170Ha of rolling country, running 370 dairy cows. Each year up to 20% of his property is put into winter feed such as kale and fodder beet. Shaun is one of a growing number of farmers who have recently converted from spreading fertilizer as a granular form to applying liquid fertilizer. This has proved to both increased production and reduced costs.

“We used to spread our fertilizer dry at 100kg/Ha and decided the cost was too high for the return. We heard about the success other farmers have proved using liquid fertilizer’s so decided to explore that option,” he says.

After about 6 months of intensive research into the different options available, Shaun purchased a Spraysmart Condor 800 litre sprayer featuring the unique mechanical agitator and 12 metre fully hydraulic boom. Spraysmart is the sprayer division of Hustler Equipment based in Hastings. Hustler built their first sprayer around 50 years ago and is still owned & run by the same family today – 3 generations later.

Shaun’s initial thoughts on the whole liquid fertilizer concept were that it seemed a bit too complicated. After doing the research himself he is 3 months down the track and now after spraying 400Ha in this time Shaun has not looked back, “It’s just so simple, we dissolve granular urea with water in a mixing tank and add some GibbGro”. He now applies only 37-38Kg/ha of urea in liquid form compared to 100kg/Ha of dry urea while still maintaining the same result of pasture growth. “It’s basically halved our costs,” Shaun says the savings in the first 3 months have already paid for the investment in the new sprayer. “I was achieving such good results that my neighbour decided to give it a go. As his sprayer didn’t have sufficient agitation, he found that he couldn’t keep the fluid from settling. This is where the mechanical agitator is crucial, I couldn’t do without it”.

By applying his fertilizer in liquid form it has also enabled Shaun to spray for ragwort at the same time. He included weed spray in with each tank load to keep the weeds in control.

With the Condor Shaun find he can pour the urea straight into the tank and the mechanical agitator does all the mixing. This is particularly useful when having to travel a long way from the mixing station to the paddock. He can mix at the paddock instead of having to go back to the mixing station. “I’m really rapt with the agitator, without it we couldn’t mix properly”.

Shaun says that the sprayer has paid for itself already in the 3 months he has owned it as a result of the reduction in fertilizer costs. Another great feature is the twin nozzle bodies. This allows him to easily switch over from liquid fertilizer application to herbicides or post-emergent sprays when spraying his winter crops.

“I honestly thought that something would be broken somewhere after 400Ha, even getting tangled fences a number of times! However I haven’t managed to break a thing,” says Shaun. “I think it is largely because of the forward and backward suspension, it really saves the boom a lot of stress”. The 800 litre Condor is mounted to the back of his New Holland TS125A and mostly operates at around 10km/h across undulating terrain, and he says the boom is very stable and smooth. “Usually there’s something you’d like changed, but with the Condor I literally cannot find anything that should have been made differently”.

Shaun also purchased a Raven GPS with e-dif for his sprayer. He says this has more than paid for itself, even just the saving of not having to buy foam concentrate. At first he was a little cautious at going for GPS in place of the traditional foam marker, but he’s glad he took the next step up. Shaun, like a lot of farmers had concerns that in some weather conditions, the GPS unit may not pick up the necessary satellites, “However not once has this proved to be a problem”. He claims it is a brilliant tool for proof of placement too, especially when contracting out to other farmers. While the local council is very good to deal with he expects it is only a matter of time before regulations will demand this.

“Overall I really like it. There is nothing I can improve on at all. It’s very well put together,” says Shaun. It uses common parts which are easily sourced. Shaun Ross purchased his Condor sprayer through his local Spraysmart dealer, Norwood Farm Machinery Hastings.