Pasture care: Bogballe M2W
This month Jaiden takes a look at the Bogballe M2W, a fertiliser spreader that will help lower your production costs and reduce environmental damage, thanks to its clever design features.
The environmental impact of your farming activities is an important factor for all farmers to consider, whether you're arable, sheep and beef, or dairy farming. With land prices constantly increasing, the shift towards making your existing land more productive, rather than expanding, naturally means intensifying. With intensification comes drawbacks, such as leaching and nutrient run-off. The more intense your farming practices get, the more stringent regulations become. This month's test machine is a Bogballe M2W fertiliser spreader that will make your money go further by spreading expensive fertiliser more consistently and accurately, and not in creeks, trees, or races and water troughs, so it ticks a few boxes.
For the test I headed to Normanby in Taranaki, where Cameron Bourke has been over the moon with the performance of his M2W Bogballe after taking delivery in October last year from AMT in Hawera, the Origin Agroup dealer in Taranaki. So why did they choose this particular spec'd machine over a trailer spreader that would cost the same money, but has considerably lower holding capacity? Simple really — accuracy, fertiliser savings, and simplicity. When you invest in a machine of this calibre, it's not a short-term investment. When you do the math, the return on fertiliser savings over 10 years makes this spreader seem cheap in the long run.
This particular machine is very high spec — something you would expect to see on an arable farm — however the Bourkes' spread a considerable amount of fertiliser and urea on their 600-cow farm, so the accuracy and fertiliser savings justified the M spec machine.
This is the main selling point, as not only are these machines compatible with a wide variety of GPS companies (i.e. Trimble, Topcon etc. to keep the driver honest), the machine uses a unique technique with disc rotation to create a four overlap spreading pattern.
The spreader's discs spin inwards, with each able to cover the machine's full range of working widths (12m-42m). This little-and-often method builds to the required rate in four steps, reducing the variations from wind, the breaking properties of the granules, terrain, and PTO speed.
To achieve the desired spreading width and pattern, the manual, in conjunction with the Zurfcom controller, specifies what linkage height, PTO speed and top link adjustment is required. To adjust the front-to-rear angle on the top link there is a sight level on the headstock. A parallelogram linkage corrects for uneven distribution of hopper contents, allowing a single load cell to always produce reliable output. Another checkpoint is to ensure the linkage arms are set at the same height, as this will alter how fast each bin will go down, particularly if constantly spreading in one direction along hill sides.
The spreader's two agitators live partly under cone-shaped protectors and the fertiliser is fed only to the sides of the agitator fingers, giving granules an easier life and helping to stop the fertiliser packing down during transport.
Agitator design is unique in the way that it is mounted unconventionally, and movement is erratic with its range of movement and rotation speed dictated by the fertiliser resistance. As a result, low-resistance material, like urea, is agitated gently (around 12rpm), while denser stuff, like potash, prompts faster, more vigorous action to stop it shelving (speeds around 60rpm).
Below the agitators is the company's patented double shutter control outlet, which adjusts flow from the hopper. Each outlet is equipped with a pair of slides that open and close together via electric motors from the controller, rather than hydraulically.
The M2W test machine was the 2250-litre model (the W stands for weigh scales), which holds over 1.5 tonnes of urea and for super, almost one kilo per litre (i.e. 2.25 tonnes). The machine's capacity can be bolstered by adding extensions to the top of the bin, which will allow the M2W to cope with up to 3000 litres, or you can upgrade to the M3 with a payload of up to 4040 litres. The machines frame and spreading apparatus stays the same regardless of the number of extensions on the M2, with the weigh cell strong enough to handle up to six tonnes, so overloading won't be an issue.
Bogballe's Quadro system derives its name from its four prime functions — calibration, normal spreading, headland spreading, and emptying. Calibration is about as easy as it gets. Because of Bogballe's test hall, just about every fertiliser type and sowing rate has been tested, so when it comes to spreading, it's just a matter of loading the material, setting the sowing rate, and the computer sorts out the rest. For the more basic L models, again the computer monitor can be spec'd. The manual version is still very simple and takes around five minutes, with no need for tools or disc removal to complete. You take out a section of a disc, fit a small chute, turn the disc so it lines up with the hopper outlet, lock off the disc, and put a container underneath the machine. Automation then opens and closes the slides, you weigh the fertiliser material delivered, punch the result into the cab controller, replace the disc segment, and you're set to go.
Another adjustment that may be needed is to swap vanes when changing material. Simply undo two bolts on each of the manganese steel vanes, and you're away.
The monitor looks very big, but this size allows for a very easy-to-read screen which is simple to navigate around and doesn't require you to scroll through menus to find what you want. To further simplify the operation, the team at Bogballe is constantly testing spreading characteristics of different types of fertiliser in its test hall. Equipped with fully-automatic weighing of the test trays, the results are then registered in a database which is either stored on the Zurfcom controller, or you can get this off the internet and transfer to the controller via a USB stick. This allows calibration charts to be imported for specific products (often by trade name) that can be stored along with application data for up to 99 products in the Zurfcom controller.
A lot of the procedure is done through automation. See below:
- The Zurfcom controller automatically spots the hopper is filling (from the weigh cell) and asks for confirmation.
- The operator either stays with the same product as last time, or looks up the material in the spreading chart or online, checks the right vanes are fitted, and then sets machine angle and PTO speed as recommended in
- Final step is to enter the required rate. An electric motor then operates pairs of slides under direction from the Zurfcom controller. There are no springs to break, so slides can't stay shut, and no hydraulic hoses to operate — and it's all done from the controller.
- The controller then monitors forward speed, either through an accessory cable, a conventional wheel sensor, or a GPS sensor kit, and allows the spreading rate to be altered on the move.
My first impression of this machine was its quality finish, which is mainly down to the use of stainless steel in areas that are in constant contact with corrosive material, while the hopper is coated in flexi-coat paint, which amounts to almost 20 percent of the cost of the machine and looks and feels like plastic — it's that smooth and hard. The inward disc rotation, which spreads the material in four layers, the Quadro system, and the Zurfcom controller show that this is no 'Johnny come lately' machine, with a lot of thought and effort having gone into the design and build of the machine. The great thing about the Bogballe is all the features that make the spreading pattern so accurate come standard, right down to the base machine, and if you want higher levels of automation, it covers that too. It really is a your one-stop fertiliser spreading shop.
- Extremely accurate
- Inward spinning discs give four-layer spreading
- Hopper base is made from stainless steel
- Driveline is protected by a slip clutch
- Road lighting and mudguards are standard
- Flexi-coat paint quality is some of the best I've seen
- Zurfcom controller is very easy to use
- Compatible with a number of GPS systems
- No hydraulic hoses, just the cab monitor cable and the three-point linkage
- Calibration couldn't be easier
- Will not spread fine material
- Hard to see fertiliser level through hopper windows, however the weight is displayed on the Zurfcom controller
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