Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator

By: Jaiden Drought


Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator
Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator
Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator
Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator
Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator
Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator

Farm Trader puts the Abbey Tri-App Applicatior to find out mroe about the machine

Test: Abbey Tri-App Applicator
The Abbey Tri–App Applicator combines the three functions of a dribble bar, a trailing boot, and a trailing shoe applicator

In case you've had your head buried in the sand over the past few months, the debate over the issue of 'swimmable rivers' is heating up and in some regions is becoming red hot; the reason being that the government has set a target for 90% of New Zealand's rivers and streams to be safe for swimming by 2040.

In a nutshell, this means all waterways need to meet the safe standard for E.coli contamination 80% of the time, with the new standard of 540 parts of E.coli per 100ml. But aren't we renowned worldwide for our clean green image with our 100% Pure slogan?

With farmers getting the brunt of the blame (such as the intensification of land, stocking rate increases, and nitrate leaching), meeting these new standards would mean an additional 56,000km of waterway fencing.

As a dairy farmer, obviously my views are to stick up for the farmers and say we have come a long way already. I don't believe farmers intentionally degrade the environment because let's be honest, the environment and how we look after it plays a massive role in whether the farming business is profitable or not, and the old 'backbone of the country' chestnut definitely has some merit.

So there is no doubt we are going to be governed more around all things effluent-related. While I think this new legislation is as much politically-driven as it is environmentally-driven, it is also worth noting that in many cases, people (particularly from the UK and Europe) can't believe how far behind we are.

In many countries, ponds and travelling irrigators simply don't exist. The effluent is a much thicker consistency due to being held underground, and in a barn-type situation, there simply isn't the water in the effluent we have here.

Splash plates are banned in Germany, while in Ireland, an upward splash plate is also banned. Many other countries are following these examples, with research showing up to 80% of the nitrogen in slurry is lost into the atmosphere as ammonia and up to 40% of the P is also lost within the first 12 hours.

We now know that the large amount of imported feed brought onto farms also carries a nutritional element, and if the existing effluent on the property is spread correctly, it can turn into significant savings in chemical fertiliser applications.

Essentially, there are three types of effluent application methods that will significantly reduce both nutrient losses and odour, which is a significant issue for those farmers facing the urban sprawl.

The most effective is the disc applicator, which is essentially like a disc drill behind the tanker, and the effluent is injected in. It's an effective system but the power requirements are extremely high, and as a result, working widths are limited by power.

The next two are the dribble bar and either a trailing shoe or trailing boot applicator. They are similar in their approach where the dribble bar works slightly off the ground. However, the trailing boot has a rubber boot and fans the effluent slightly in the base, while a trailing shoe is the same as a boot but a steel 'shoe' runs along the ground, creating a small grove where the effluent is dropped into.

Both drop the effluent onto the ground beneath the grazing zone of the grass, which – as it's not airborne – reduces nutrient loss and eliminates tainting and allows faster grazing. And now, enter the Abbey Tri–App Applicator – a new concept in slurry application combining three functions of a dribble bar, trailing boot, and trailing shoe applicators in one; hence the name, Tri-App.

The test

To put the Abbey Tri-App through its paces, we headed to Grant Allan's 110-hectare farm in North Taranaki. First impressions are extremely positive; it certainly looks the business. Grant runs a three-pond system with no discharge to water, so using the valuable effluent from a high portion of imported feed significantly reduces the amount of fertiliser bought onto the property.

Given that Abbey manufacture both the tanker and the applicator, the package is
well-presented. Rear overhang is kept to a minimum, which significantly helps
weight distribution on the tractor, stress on the tank, and also reduces rear-tail swing
into gateways.

While some might argue that this well-spec'd machine is hard to justify on a dairy farm, Grant acknowledges and understands the underlying benefits to a more organic approach to fertiliser application – in this case, his existing effluent.

His decision to purchase the Abbey Tri-App from Farmgard through Power Farming Taranaki, came from a local contractor's approach to effluent and a standard splash plate applicator. It doesn't take long to find some compelling scientific research to come to the conclusion that this is not the way forward.

Grant was worried about the work rate because anyone who has driven a slurry tanker will know it can be a demoralising job. The addition of a dribble bar can only slow down the process because any technique of pumping thick slurry through small bore pipes is bound to be fraught with problems.

With the Abbey Tri-App, however, this is not the case. The 7.5-metre three-section folding rear attachment is fitted with a 40mm heavy-duty durable hose, which is designed with no internal restrictions at hose joints. This allows uninterrupted flow from the tank through the Vogelsang Exacut chopping macerator and out the 30 droppers onto the ground.

The rear boom is in three sections and although the main frame is rigid, the subframe in which the hoses are mounted can follow the paddock contours. To see it in action, check out the video here. Grant had the splash plate fitted to the rear as well, although looking at it, it has never been used, as the dribble bar is equally efficient in terms of loads per hour, and with significantly more nutrients making it to the ground, it becomes a no-brainer.

Application depends on the paddock contour and grass cover, but Grant mentions a 50% split between the dribble bar and the trailing shoe, both with equally successful results.

The controller

The in-cab controller is a long multifunction keypad, which works electronically over hydraulic. The machine can run load sensing, although this was run through a single spool with a high flow return.

For me, the controller was the only part of the machine that was a bit of a let-down.
I think it would be easier to have a larger monitor, more like the size of an iPad (ideally touchscreen) with a side view of the machine, so the buttons for the front of the machine, such as the filling arm, were at the front, and functions such as the unfolding of the dribble bar were at the rear. This would make it more logical and user-friendly, as even Grant admits to pushing the wrong button occasionally due to the layout, even though he uses it daily.

The macerator

As mentioned, pumping this type of slurry, particularly fibrous effluent like that of high users of maize silage, brings the need for a good quality macerator to keep the flow.

Vogelsang (which just about everyone uses) is a name synonymous with quality. The slurry is pumped up from the top of the tanker through the hydraulically reversible macerator (with stone trap) and out through the hoses. Grant loves the system and has only had one issue with large wood chunks, which is hardly the machine's fault.

Verdict

The Abbey Tri-App is a real revolution in the way that either the dribble bar or trailing shoe can be used depending on the paddock. Admittedly, this is a high-end machine, but having said that, the value of your effluent is also significant and must be utilised.

So why choose a Tri-App over your traditional splash plate? The only real reason
is the nitrogen losses are less than 20% rather than nearer to 80% with the splash plate. It becomes a no-brainer once you look at not only N losses but also P and K, and if you are going to do the job, it literally is no more work to capture up to 60% more of these elements and get them into the soil.

The best part about all this is that it is free – the effluent that is, not the tanker. It's a solid example of farming smarter, not harder.

Check out the video review here.

Plus

  • Versatile machine
  • High build quality with excellent finish
  • 7.5m working width allows high work rate
  • Contour following of the three boom sections is very good
  • Fast filling with eight-inch auto fill arm and turbo fill
  • Trailing shoe, trailing boot, dribble bar, and inverted splash plate all on one machine
  • Large recessed tyres make for great floatation, easy pulling, and better manoeuvrability
  • Hydraulically reversible macerator allows even constant effluent flow

Minus

  • The machine is heavy behind the tractor and the 180hp machine knows it's there
  • The in-cab controller could be more user-friendly

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