Cover story: Giltrap WideTrac fertiliser spreader


Farm Trader takes a closer look at the Giltrap WideTrac fertiliser spreader

An iconic New Zealand-owned and operated business, Giltrap Engineering boasts a long and impressive history of innovation. The growth of the family business is an inspiring story in itself, having developed from just one person (Wilfred Giltrap) operating out of a single shed back in 1959, to a leading machinery brand that’s today firmly cemented in the minds of New Zealand farmers and contractors as synonymous with quality and performance.

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WideTrac’s automatic electronic control system means operators no longer have to drive at a certain speed with the door set at a specific height to achieve their target spreading rate

The latest offering from this highly respected stable of agricultural machinery is Giltrap Engineering’s new WideTrac – a cost-effective, easy-to-use fertiliser spreader that eliminates time-consuming manual adjustments that other entry-level spreaders require.

Offering next-level performance at an entry-level price, the eye-catching WideTrac embraces the best of intuitive 21st Century technology with the most robust and proven materials and methods of manufacture from decades of Giltrap Engineering experience.

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The lightweight, durable plastic body is held in place by a tough galvanised steel frame

Performance and construction

One of the most notable points sure to find favour is the fact the WideTrac’s automatic electronic control system means operators no longer have to drive at a certain speed with the door set at a specific height to achieve their target spreading rate. While in hindsight this seems an obvious feature for a fertiliser spreader, it has, in fact, been sorely missing from other brands and models.

Much thought has gone into the design to ensure it’s equipped to meet the demands of all farming operations. With this in mind, the Giltrap WideTrac features a lightweight but durable plastic body, held in place by a tough galvanised steel frame. The bold and innovative design stands out from the crowd and is instantly recognisable as a cutting-edge design packed with the latest features.

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The rubber floor belt is 780mm wide and 8mm thick, with 5mm high cleats

"There’s no denying that the WideTrac makes a strong first impression because of its stylish plastic body," says Giltrap Engineering North Island area manager Eric Crosby.

Made from low-density plastic (LDPE), the bin has great flexibility and high impact resistance. It also has an inner and an outer wall, both of which are 8mm thick.

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The eye-catching rear view with stainless steel rear door and high speed dished spinner discs

"There is an air gap between the two walls that the fully-galvanised steel frame fits into. Because the frame is fully encased in the plastic panels, this has the added benefit of ensuring it has no direct contact with fertiliser."

A large viewing window in front of the plastic body allows the operator to keep a close eye on what’s happening within the bin.

"The construction of the plastic bin is modular and made up of a number of panels, so if one is ever damaged, it can easily be removed and replaced without the need to replace the entire bin," he says.

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With its wide belt, the WideTrac can spread virtually any product, from urea to lime or organic compost

As well as the frame being hot-dip galvanised, the chassis and most other metal parts are galvanised or stainless steel (including the belt chains) for excellent corrosion-resistance.

The rubber floor belt is 780mm wide and 8mm thick, with 5mm high cleats. The belt is riveted to the galvanised chain and slat assembly with high-tensile stainless mono-bolts. Simple stainless steel tensioning adjusters keep everything running smoothly and allow zero belt slip.

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In keeping with a focus on longevity, the spinners are stainless steel

What a spinner

As well as the wide heavy-duty spreader belt and high-speed spinner discs, an easy-to-use rate controller (with a large backlit display) is built into the front of the machine.

At the business end of the spreader, the rear door and spinners are stainless steel for added corrosion and wear resistance.

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Construction of the plastic bin is modular, made up of a number of panels

"The spreading system is hydraulically-driven, so there’s no threat of wheel slip disrupting spreading, which can happen with ground drive systems that use a jockey wheel," says Eric.

With the dished spinner discs capable of working at speeds up to 1000rpm, they produce an even spread at widths up to 24 metres with granulated fertilisers.

A master of versatility, with its wide belt, the WideTrac can spread virtually any product, from superphosphate to urea or lime. It can also handle organic products such as poultry manure and compost. Spreading rates extend from 40 to 5000kg per hectare depending on the product used.

Control is key

A major feature that separates the WideTrac from other basic fertiliser spreaders is its simple but effective electric control system. This just requires a few steps with two control buttons to set up a job.

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The control panel makes it quick and easy to enter key parameters of a spreading job

"It’s really that simple," says Eric. "The control panel has a display screen that lets you scroll through the settings. Then you just use up and down arrows to enter the required spread rate, density of fertiliser, and spread width."

Once this information is in the system, the controller calculates the belt speed that’s required to spread the material. It then opens the rear door with an electric ram, depending on the spread rate and product density entered.

"As you work, it automatically alters the belt speed and door height to match your driving speed. This ensures you apply the correct rate at all times."

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Scroll through display screens for easy settings

But wait, there’s more

Giltrap Engineering provides a weighing kit with the WideTrac, which can be used to determine the density of the products being spread.

The process is refreshingly straightforward. Just collect a litre of the product and measure its weight. Then enter that figure into the control panel using the up and down arrows.

A nifty handheld remote is provided for ease of turning the spreader on and off. This means that it’s as simple as pushing the red button on the remote to stop spreading once the end of the row or any other area is reached where the operator wants to stop spreading.

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A useful handheld remote to stop or start spreading

After making the turn and getting back in the next row, just push the green button to resume spreading.

"Spreading fertiliser is a topical subject these days, and it will only get more attention in the next few years as regional authorities increase compliance requirements," says Craig Mulgrew, managing director of Giltrap Engineering.

"The WideTrac is a unique spreader not only in New Zealand but around the world. It provides a simple, affordable way for farmers to apply fertiliser accurately so they can meet those compliance regulations."

Size and capacity

WideTrac spreaders are available with capacities of four, six, and eight tonnes and all models have the option of tandem or single axles. Other options include mudguards and rollover tarpaulin covers to keep things clean and dry.

All models are designed with a low centre of gravity and swivel tow coupling for added stability and peace of mind on the challenging terrain New Zealand operators frequently encounter. A spinner nudge bar protects the spinners also on undulating ground, with LED lights and remote greasing for the axle pivots standard too.

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Summary

Standing out from the crowd from the moment you see it, the WideTrac delivers on all of its promises. In these days of tight business models on farms, maximum efficiency and accuracy are key when it comes to keeping a rein on costs and productivity. The security offered by the hydraulically-driven and computer-controlled WideTrac offers peace of mind for operators and continues Giltrap Engineering’s excellent track record of keeping New Zealand farmers and contractors operating at their best. 

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