Profile: Bogballe M-Line Range

By: Brent Lilley, Photography by: Laura Batten and supplied


A first-hand look at the latest range of spreaders from Danish manufacturer Bogballe

As environmental rules and economic constraints tighten around farmers, spreading fertiliser accurately becomes increasingly important. Fortunately, spreading technology has come a long way, with manufacturers striving to combine the latest technology into their machines.

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Recently, I was invited to a dealer Training Day in the Waikato for a first-hand look at the latest range of spreaders from Danish manufacturer Bogballe.

Hosted by Origin Ag, the New Zealand distributor of Bogballe, an added bonus was the opportunity to meet and chat with Nils Laursen, managing director of Bogballe, who was enjoying his recent visit to New Zealand from Denmark.

Having him on hand to run through the features of the spreaders designed and built in his family-owned factory was a unique opportunity to discuss details with someone who knows every inch of these machines, as well as the whys and hows behind every design feature.

Background

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While I have always associated Bogballe with fertiliser spreaders, following Nils’ visit I also learned that Bogballe is actually a town in southern Denmark. As the name suggests, this is where the company was founded, building its first small single disc fertiliser spreaders back in 1934.

While the range has expanded significantly since then, along with the size and capabilities of the manufacturing premises, the company still remains family-owned with the same determination to design and manufacture top-quality spreaders.

The Bogballe factory now covers more than 20,000 square metres, and 96% of the machines built are exported to more than 90 countries worldwide. Specialising specifically in spreaders, with no split of focus onto other equipment, the business is 100% focused on delivering the best product they can.

Hopper  

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All Bogballe machines are built around a modular design. With a base frame that can take different width hoppers, extensions are easily added to the top to increase carrying capacity.

The M-Line range that we looked at has capacities ranging from 1250 litres to the largest model where capacity sits at a whopping 6000 litres (depending on the hopper specified).

The hoppers are designed to maximise the carrying capacity while still feeding material evenly to the two spinners. Inside the hopper, a grate prevents any lumps getting to the bottom.

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This is hinged so is easily opened if you need to get in there. A sight glass at the front gives the operator a clear view of how much is left and a scale on the inside proves handy when loading.

At the bottom of the hopper is a somewhat unique freewheeling eccentric agitator. This is cleverly designed to move, as the material in the hopper flows past it, self-regulating with the type of material in the hopper and the spreading rate. This ensures product flows freely to the spreading discs without being crushed or damaged.  

Dynamic shutters

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Above each spinner on the bottom hopper is a Dynamic double shutter. Controlled by the monitor, it opens and closes electronically to regulate flow as required. Cleverly, there is a range of four changeable inserts that change the shape of the shutter hole to give a range of spreading rates, from a massive 650kg/min down to an impressive 1kg/min.

While the standard insert will cover most spreading requirements, this is also easily changed, which means the machine can be used to spread a variety of products from fertiliser to slug bait, salt or seeds such as grass, canola or swedes, making the unit hugely versatile and useful.

These Dynamic shutters also allow variable rate spreading as an option using a GPS controller. The rate can be varied rapidly by the computer on the move as dictated by an uploaded variable rate map.

Spreading

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Pretty much all twin discs spreaders on the market use what is called off-centre spreading, where material is dropped on the centre side of the spreading disc and thrown outward.

This is the first major point of difference that Bogballe boasts; its spreaders have always used in-centre spreading, meaning material is dropped to the outside of the spinner and thrown from one side and across the back of the machine in an almost 180-degree arc.

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This gives you a double overlap in one pass, with even distribution across the back of the machine. So, in a normal spreading pattern at 24-metre intervals, you end up with a quadruple overlap, which builds up the spread pattern evenly and accurately.

The spreading width can be anywhere from 12 metres up to around 42 metres, although conditions would need to be perfect for this.

To adjust it, a level indicator ensures the frame is level on the tractor before it is tilted slightly forwards or backwards to increase or decrease the spreading width. This is easily changed with a scale manually, or there is an option for automatic electronic adjustment from the monitor.

Section control   

Section control effectively cuts down the spreading width in real time as the machine is moving when spreading wedge shapes or thin strips. While it’s an option requiring a GPS controller, it’s well worth it in my opinion, with huge savings to be made.

The GPS detects the area to be spread and will narrow the spreading width electronically by adjusting a small brush under the shutter on the required spinner, which delays the drop of the fertiliser, changing where it hits the vanes and therefore reducing the spread pattern where required. This all happens seamlessly, and the shutters also reduce the flow for the same even accurate placement.

Edge spreading

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Edge spreading can be a tricky thing to get right, but once again, Bogballe has come up with a clever system. Its spreading vanes have been designed with a hole in them. This unique design doesn’t affect the throw when spreading but means that when the operator selects edge spreading, the rotation disc is reversed to the traditional rotation system.

The material is then spread with the back side of the vane through the strategically placed hole. This cuts the distance it’s thrown in half on the right-hand side of the machine, allowing spreading accurately at the same rate right to the edge of the field.

Weighing

As an option, Bogballe also offers weigh scale versions. To ensure they are always accurate, the single load is built into a parallel linkage within the main frame of the machine. An advanced computer system uses sensors to separate out the effects of bumps as well as the angle of the spreader, giving the precise weight of the material left in the hopper at all times.

In my opinion, scales are well worth fitting on a machine like this, as they not only give you the precise amount of material used and left but also allow for real-time auto-calibration, which continually refines the spreading rate to match the desired rate with the area covered and weight used.   

Monitor

Although the Calibrator Zurf monitor is a decent size, it also has a large monocoloured screen and well-spaced buttons, which add to the overall ease of use. This controls all the functionality of the spreader along with a wealth of info.

As you would expect, spreading rates and area covered are shown, along with forward speed and spinner rpm. It also shows the weight of material used, the weight left, and how many metres or hectares this will cover at the current rate – something I find extremely handy.

With buttons to control most functions and several menus for adjustments and inputs, a standout feature is a help button, located right in the centre. This can be pressed when anything is selected to give a brief overview and help around the selected function, which means you never have to worry about trying to find a manual. If you’re stuck on something, it’s right there at your fingertips.  

Calibration

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The Bogballe test facility has conducted more than 45,000 spreading tests on pretty much any material you can imagine. These can be accessed through a downloadable smartphone app, which makes calibrating the spreader both easy and simple to use.

You just input the required spreading rate and bulk density and the results from a shaker box test are used to determine particle sizes. The app gives you the required settings, which are entered into the monitor and then the spreader is calibrated and ready to spread.

When scales are fitted to the machine, it can auto calibrate, which adjusts the spreading rate on the move by measuring the weight used and the area covered and then adjusts the spreading rate in real time.       

Surface treatment

High-quality, long-lasting paintwork is crucial on a spreader. At Bogballe, it’s all about the preparation. All steel components are laser cut for clean edges before being accurately welded together. Steel is then taken back to a raw state with a combination of grinding and shot blasting.

What follows is an advanced seven-step cleaning process that ensures there are absolutely no contaminants left. The steel is completely neutral before it’s baked dry and powder-coated. As a result, the finished Bogballe ‘Flex-Coat’ paint is said to be 30 times stronger than traditional paint and gives an incredibly robust, long-lasting finish to the machine.

Cleaning

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Let’s face it – no one likes cleaning a spreader when the job is finished but it has to be done. Fortunately, the team at Bogballe have put a lot of thought into not only keeping the machine clean but also about how to make it as easy and quick as possible. Mudguards at the front stop mud splattering from the tractor and the machine’s light panels and shrouds are hinged and open up, so areas behind them can be easily washed.

Around the frame, there are several ports that you can put the pressure washer nozzle into, which deflect the spray around into the hard-to-reach places. Further holes in the main frame ensure all hard-to-reach areas are easily cleaned.

This gets a definite thumbs up from me, as traditionally, cleaning a spreader is not an enjoyable or a quick process. It’s great to see Bogballe thinking about how to make the operator’s job as easy as possible. 

Verdict

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The opportunity to hear first-hand from Nils Laursen was invaluable, particularly around what the spreaders have to offer and what sets them apart from other brands. It’s obvious that Nils and the company are justifiably proud of their products and are determined to continually develop and refine their spreaders.

Accurate placement of fertiliser is only going to become more important in New Zealand, so the benefits of accurate on-board weighing, even spreading, edge spreading, section control, and variable rates are hugely important to make sure your fertiliser is put exactly where you need it.

The attention to detail in the design of the machine in terms of easy cleaning and the robust, high-quality paint finish are definite highlights for me. While a spreader of this specification represents a substantial initial investment, it will more than pay for itself for those with serious amounts of product to spread.  

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